Gender Neutral Clothing in the Outdoor Industry
We were nervous to share something yesterday.
A post about gender neutral clothing.
Because it's not the norm.
And if we've learnt anything, it's that people tend to criticise what they don't understand.
For the record, this is not a post about gender. It is about clothes.
To do what is always done
Think of any well known outdoor brand, search their website or retail store and you will find categories: Male, Female, Girls, Boys or - if you're a quirky Hollister type, something like 'Chicks and Dudes.'
We get it, it’s a convenient: men shop these products, women shop those. Most of us fit under these categories in a way that feels natural, so we overlook the inherent structure.
But just because something is convenient, doesn't mean it's not outdated.
Think of the last time you pinched a hoody from your partner. If you had brought it in your size, would you have noticed a difference? Probably not. Would you have brought it in a store? Or does it feel like you shouldn't be in that section?
Don't get us wrong, in recent years, we’ve seen an effort from the fashion industry to create more inclusive, less gendered garments. These pieces aren’t overtly masculine or feminine. Instead, they speak to the growing desire for clothing that doesn’t fit a certain mould. Yet for some brands, it appears to be a case of 'beige frumpy top,' green tick in a box.
As a group with first hand experience in fashion design, unless you are specifically tailoring an item to a particular form, there is very little difference between the two - apart from attitude.
Get what you've always got
One question we get asked a lot, on behalf of RYDE is 'how can you make a coat unisex?' 'Surely a female coat is more tailored?'
Our response is - the 19th century called, they want their sexism (amongst many others) back.
Just kidding, we're more professional than that.
At Ryde, we have created an all-gender fit system that was made with a spectrum of sizes, genders, non-binary and different forms in mind. With thoughtful design features, an oversized silhouette helps combat the issue of differing waist-to-hip ratios and it offers some flexibility in fit.
When we first started, we were drowning in tech packs - altering a hoody by 2 inches in the shoulder and labelling it as 'Women's', then repeating the process and creating more for 'Men.' It was doubling time, production cost, resource and carbon footprint.
We took a step back and remembered why we were designing, as an example - a hoody - in the first place.
Not for men or women but for:
2) Function: Loungewear that is easy to use in a sport or outdoor environment - i.e. if post swim, with a wet back - you do not want something sticking to you.
So, in the spirit of a start up - we scrapped all of the plans at the last second and opted for gender neutral.
The outdoors is for everyone and if you want a coat, we've made it so you can select a 'coat' straight from the bat. If you want to share that coat with your partner, friend, whoever - great, one size will fit many.
Yes, customer service can level up as there is more work involved in guiding people through the correct sizing but it cuts down on waste, extra spending or room in your backpack - that's sustainable in our eyes.
Try something new
There will always be elements of personal preference in how something fits - but that's for you to decide, not us.
We have a small range at the moment and we're not perfect. I understand the difficulties of creating unisex technical garments but by reducing the gender constraint or specific products and categories, Ryde are on track with our goal of making less and providing an inclusive environment for our customers.
Brands shouldn’t be deciding which clothing is right for you based on your gender identity.