Unisex fashion design has influenced high fashion in varying degrees for the past five decades, and is currently in full force. Even the fashion layman has grown accustomed to gender neutrality in clothing. Colors are not the polarizing force they once were, and both style and fit grow ever more fluid, with hoodies, tees, skinny jeans, and sneakers being essentially interchangeable between genders. So it’s not surprising that the Cassandra Gender Report found that four out of ten women prefer clothes designed specifically for men, and fewer than half of men and women prefer to buy products that are gender specific.
Initially an outgrowth of the women’s empowerment movement of the 1960’s, androgyny was used as a way to make a statement. Today, however, unisex fashion is appreciated by individualistic gen y and z-ers for its conspicuous lack of statements. Highly gendered clothing comes with presuppositions, connotations, and even baggage that these generations tend to avoid. They want their fashion to be tailored to their behaviors, not feel compelled to tailor their behaviors to popular fashion. As the Cassandra Report explains, they “do not want society to tell them what men and women should do or buy; rather, they want to define items they purchase by their own unique use of them.”
This is why unisex apparel fits naturally with Cotopaxi’s design philosophy, which revolves around simplicity, honesty, and innovation. Adventure is not a gendered activity, and is inherently inclined to a modern, streamlined fit. Adding gender to clothing also adds bulk, distractions, and unnecessary complications. “We are creating product, like the Aguateca, that gets away from the ‘shrink it and pink it’ philosophy the outdoor industry is known for,” says Cheri Sanguinetti, Cotopaxi’s Director of Apparel. “We are making product for those that value change and innovation and being on the cutting-edge.”
Unisex fashion is about applying the best design principles possible and not being limited by passing trends or societal expectations. Fit, comfort, and style are not sacrificed, and neither party gets the raw end of the deal. Each design choice is deliberated with the end user experience in mind. “Our goal isn’t to make waves,” Cheri concludes, “just to make sense.”