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Fashion and gender

Swedish fashion truly is in a state of transition. Norms and stereotypes are challenged, gender identities explored.

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Photo: Eton

Fashion and gender

Swedish fashion truly is in a state of transition. Norms and stereotypes are challenged, gender identities explored.

An experimental trend

During the past few years there have been intense media discussions on the interrelations between fashion, gender and power. Many Swedish fashion brands have used these discussions as a starting point to explore new ways of expressing gender through their designs, pushing for a less binary and more fluid way of understanding masculinity, femininity and everything in-between.

The desire to participate in a larger societal debate has also led the designers and stylers of Swedish fashion to develop in more experimental and avant-garde directions. Even though larger and more established companies – such as department store Åhléns and H&M-owned Weekday – have created both advertising campaigns and collections challenging outdated perceptions of gender, it is among young fashion designers that the question of gender is thoroughly explored.

For these fashion brands, a feminist approach is not limited to an occasional campaign, but a feminist understanding of gender is integrated into the daily work on design and marketing, as well as into the overall brand concept. Lines between masculinity and femininity get blurred, and the unisex category is explored through cutting-edge designs and high-quality fabrics.

Norm-breaking brands

In 2016, Lazoschmidl won the Swedish Fashion Council Changers Award for its innovative and groundbreaking interpretation of contemporary menswear, which includes hot pants, crop tops and transparent shirts, all made-to-measure and produced by hand in Stockholm. Lazoschmidl define its collections as ‘menswear and no gender’, signalling that you don’t have to identify as male to wear the clothes.

Photo: Appletrees

Appletrees has been praised for its minimalist and unisex designs. The brand makes shirts known for exquisite details and high quality, designed to be worn by women and men alike, in styles that fit with cultural expressions from all corners of the world.

Last updated: 27 January 2017

Philip Warkander

Philip Warkander

Dr. Philip Warkander is Assistant Professor in Fashion Studies and Affiliated Researcher with the Centre for Retail Research at Lund University. He also works as a writer and consultant for magazines, newspapers and journals on fashion-related subjects.