The past few months have had everyone questioning the fashion system. From the Open Letter to the Fashion Industry in May, led by Dries van Noten, which addressed the flaws of the official schedule, to major luxury players including Celine and Gucci opting to only show mix-gendered collections twice a year, it’s apparent that change is finally underway. A further shift was felt when three of the Big Four fashion capitals’ governing bodies opted to show co-ed for the first time for spring/summer 2021 (New York had New York Men’s Day on 15 September instead, before the rest of the full schedule commenced).
Blurring gender stereotypes has become the way forward — not only is it more inclusive, it’s also less expensive for brands to produce fewer shows, promotes a more sustainable business model and, with reduced travel, it’s hopefully more environmentally friendly, too.
From exploring elegance with sex appeal to embracing tradition and heritage while challenging gender norms, Vogue spoke to four international rising fashion brands about why the future is co-ed.
Maximilian Davis, Maximilian, London
“Caribbean elegance and sex appeal,” is how Maximilian Davis, 25, describes his label’s aesthetic. The London College of Fashion alumni and Grace Wales Bonner protege made his debut on the spring/summer 2021 calendar via the support of London’s fashion incubator programme Fashion East. He has since emerged as the breakout star of the season with a photoshoot and film of his ultra-glam and sensuously tailored clothing that brought together some of the brightest names in fashion including stylist Ib Kamara, photographer Rafael Pavarotti, and filmmaker Akinola Davies.
Maximilian Davis SS21
© Courtesy of Maximilian Davis
What inspired your SS21 collection?
“The starting point was my grandmother’s heritage in Trinidad — her love for music and Carnival pushed me to research the reason behind it. Carnival became a celebration of freedom for [former] slaves in 1834 [after slavery was abolished in the British Caribbean in 1833]. I also took inspiration from my childhood memories of Trinidad in the early ’00s and trends of the time. I wanted to show a Trinidadian ease and elegance, so the fabrications and proportions were very important.”
Why did you do a co-ed collection?
“I want people to wear my clothes and feel empowered, sexy and elegant. To see a person wearing a garment that is recognised for the opposite sex is sexy to me, I see them with so much confidence. Making garments that are co-ed allows people to wear what they want for themselves. It’s about showing and supporting — not making people feel excluded.”
From Akinola Davies to Rafael Pavarotti, why is it important to you to foster a strong creative community?
“Working with my friends, my second family, is super important. The love and passion that went into my lookbook and film shows the love we have for one another. Everyone came together to do what they believe in, and that’s something I want to hold on to.”