Gender is such a widely discussed topic in this day and age, where opinions are shared (or rather, thrown aimlessly) with varied scales of vigour all over the damned internet. Suddenly everyone has become a scholar from the school of life, and personal experiences or passed-on stories provide the backbone to people’s arguments for or against what is deemed politically correct and acceptable among today’s social media vigilantes. Rather than start with the greater questions of social construction, I wanted to look at something very simple and something we probably don’t think about consciously. It’s a minor step in exploring the notion of gender, but what makes a coat a man or a woman’s?
I was styling this coat brand’s lookbook not long ago and we talked about their designs and making process. They told me a few of their designs were based on women’s shapes, despite being targeted at men. Generally speaking, there’s a subtle difference between men’s and women’s clothing, which is the fastening. Women’s clothes have buttons on the left and men’s on the right. There’s a few other non-obvious design changes such as where clothes sit on the shoulder or how they pinch at the waist, but the unwritten law is primarily the fastening. So if I told you that your long coat was actually a women’s coat and I flipped the buttons around and rejigged the holes, would you feel a little uncomfortable? Probably.
There’s this bizarre construct that if I walked into a shop, saw something I liked, but then found out it was women’s, I’d probably put it back with a little shame and embarrassment while squandering for the men’s section. I’m a little more open now and I think – in general – London’s society is as well, but I can remember how these constructs formed and almost everything came from my school and upbringing. You can’t possibly wear women’s clothes – “that’s gay”. And even if you did, God forbid you’d tell people the truth if they asked you.
“It’s a woman’s coat? Oh er…cool.”
I’d like to think that with today’s clothing market, unisex clothing is becoming more and more popular. I’m not talking about the all black layers that we pile on, but with coats and sweaters, shirts and trousers (Uniqlo for example, have been doing this for years and years). There will always be a difference because of cut and shape, and that’s perfectly fine, but if something is a few sizes big or it’s relaxed and doesn’t look too short on the arms (that’s the most important to look out for), don’t worry too much about whether something is man’s or woman’s. I think it is much easier to see women wearing men’s clothes purely because clothing looking oversize is rarely unappealing, but men shouldn’t feel too worried about clothing just because it has woman’s size references on it. If it fits, it fits. Forget about it.
[on a side note, as I was writing this I bumped into a great writer called Jason Jules, who said the following: “there’s no menswear or womenswear, it’s just shape and colour”. I don’t think I could put it better & simpler myself]
Pictured is Hanna, who is wearing some of my coats. I admit it’s much easier to depict women looking pretty astonishing in the men’s clothing, but it’s something I wouldn’t mind exploring the other way round. The green trench coat is actually made to measure, which either says something about my physique or hers because it fits particularly well. Each coat is matched with a simple jumper and trouser combination, and not something far from what I’d wear myself. You’d look at these images and think “great, she looks beautiful and quite cool”, and if I was wearing all the same things you’d probably think the same and not notice any difference at all. Well, minus the beautiful part anyway.
from left to right
Coat – Greatcoat
Top – WoodWood
Trousers – Maison Kitsune
Shoes & Belt – Hanna’s own
Coat – Hawksmill Denim Co
Top – Maison Kitsune
Scarf – Valentino at Mr. Porter
Trousers – Carrier Company
Shoes – Hanna’s own
Coat – bespoke trench (mine!)
Shirt – CMMN SWDN
Trousers – Carrier Company
Jacket – Our Legacy
Top – Fred Perry
Trousers – WoodWood
modelled by Hanna Hult at Milk Management
art / style / photography by Karlmond Tang w/ assistance by Miko Shimizu
hair and make-up by Nataxa TK