Beyond the Binary: Designers Breaking Gender Norms


While words like “self-love” and “acceptance” are just beginning to enter our fashion vocabulary, a handful of designers have always considered them the ethos of their brands. We explore a conversation with design personalities that are out of the ordinary

Nikita Taneja

Nikita Taneja, Summer
Keep the plus size glamor

In 2020, when the pandemic hit our shores and people clung to their work, designer Nikita Taneja took a gamble and left hers to luxury brand Gauri & Nainika. She assembled a team of pattern makers and master tailors and launched her own label, Summer, a size-inclusive womenswear brand that caters to the minimalist-chic aesthetic of modern women. “Summer was born after years and years of witnessing and experiencing fat shame,” says Taneja. “The well-meaning advice given by family from time to time about being too skinny or too fat is often mixed with a judgmental tone. My goal is to celebrate the female body through fits and patterns designed to honor every part of us, not to play it safe like most plus size brands that cripple individual expression. If a woman with bigger arms wants to wear sleeveless clothes or show off her belly, she should be able to do so with confidence. With sizes up to XXXL available on its website in frilly mini dresses, bare midriff sets and tailored pantsuits, Summer gives women the choice to dress glamorously.

Akshat Bansal, Bloni

Akshat Bansal, Bloni
On her signature clothing diary

“Bloni is a genderless fashion house inviting everyone to explore and experiment with wearing what matches their energy,” says Akshat Bansal of Bloni, who has established himself as one of the most exciting names in fashion. Indian. “The Bloni experience is about encouraging a collaborative exchange of ideas with our customers, which means marrying their individualism with our aesthetics and transforming bespoke garments into extensions of their personality. The very philosophy of modern, luxurious fashion that we let’s create at Bloni transcends creativity. It explores the congruence of the wearer and their clothes that allow self-expression. An anarchist of design, Bansal has infused his creations with a spirit of rebellion and non-conformity since the creation of the brand. in 2017. He translated his Saville Row learnings of impeccable tailoring into clothes that honored the human form, before gender equality clothes became a cool buzzword in fashion. look to his collections which almost always feature hypnotic kira kira or shiny reflective surfaces on jackets, tops and pants made from hybrid textiles that make its garments both elegant and environmentally friendly.

Nutan Dayal goes black

Nutan Dayal goes black

On hassle-free functional clothing for everyone

‘Minimal’, ‘effortless’, ‘timeless’ and ‘size inclusive’ are just a few adjectives the designers of Turn Black use to define what fashion means to them. Turn Black was inspired by the idea of ​​nothingness, the absence of color and perhaps even the Metallica song Fade to Black to create clothing free from prejudices, limits, servitudes and arbitrary ways of society, where being elegant was once a privilege. only for slim people. “We’ve celebrated size inclusion from the very beginning,” says Nutan, Founder of Turn Black. “Our bodies are constantly changing and we understand that. We want women, regardless of shape or size, to feel confident and comfortable in what they wear. At Turn Black, we aim to create each piece to be dynamic enough to adapt to your constant evolution. Indeed, women of all shapes and sizes can choose clothes from a buffet of minimalist, well-cut and meticulously tailored models, of course, all in black. As a label that lobbies for self-love, Turn Black is against the shameful practice of levying a “fat tax” which they find particularly archaic and has no place in fashion, especially in 2022. “We are always surprised when someone asks us if there is an additional cost for larger sizes. Every day we struggle to love our bodies in some way. makes it worse. We’re glad more people are talking about it openly.

Shivan bhatuya and Narresh Kukreja, Shivan and Narresh

Shivan bhatuya and Narresh Kukreja, Shivan and Narresh
From a lack of representation in luxury fashion

Designers Shivan Bhatiya and Narresh Kukreja of Shivan & Narresh can be credited with elevating swimwear – a category virtually non-existent in India – to luxury. “From the start, our goal was to design offerings with the quintessential Indian silhouette in mind,” the duo reveal. “As a brand, body positivity is something we passionately champion and support through our creative language.” One of the few brands to care about women whose body shapes go beyond what has been deemed acceptable, the designers are aware of the lack of female representation. “Consciously or unconsciously, we have bifurcated fashion into labels: plus size, normal size, model size, real life, etc. These labels end up becoming the beginning of a binary life that places us in socially acceptable boxes. Everywhere we try to fit in with these pre-approved ideas, forcing people to fit in or stand out. It has become essential for the fashion industry to collectively step out of this singular vision to normalize change. We must constantly emphasize through our ideology, our work and our narrative that body positivity is not seasonal. This is only possible once you have started to accept your natural figure through communication, campaigns and general brand language. Your audience will see it and recognize the design culture you represent as a brand,” they add.


Pranav Kirti Misra, Huemn
On understanding gender complexities

“What you wear is who you are,” says Pranav Kirti Misra, co-founder of Huemn, who navigates the gender-neutral clothing space with a no-nonsense approach. His favorite tool: a perfectly stitched oversized t-shirt with abstract prints of the works of other mavericks like Charles Bukowski, which is quickly becoming the epitome for changing the conversation about how society dresses. Since its creation in 2012, the Huemn label has identified itself as sartorially non-binary. Its sweatshirts, sets, shirts and jeans are designed to fit the body of anyone who wants to wear them. And, although 10 years have passed and terms such as “gender neutral” have become part of the cultural lexicon, Misra believes we are still in the early stages of understanding the concept of gender. His own understanding of the subject comes from his collaboration with artists who have helped him build an inclusivity-conscious community. For Misra, representation, or the lack thereof, extends beyond the fashion industry and is a more complex issue than meets the eye.

“There are so many parameters – physical, emotional, psychological, etc. – that play a collective role in defining gender,” he says. “Currently, we are still learning. For society to become a safe space where people can thrive without gender barriers and associated phobias, it will take a long time.

Also Read: Armaan Malik’s Dapper Style Lessons Are Looking For All The Men Out There

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