My last thoughts on gender and clothing manifested themselves in Androgynous Fashion: My Queer Struggle and since then my quest for androgynous clothes that fit my body has not stopped. I’m back with another post because I have made progress! It all started when I found Dannielle Owens-Reid’s youtube video; How To Get A Wardrobe YOU Love. This video led me to two great things. One, a less cluttered wardrobe due to getting rid of clothes I don’t wear (they’re far better off in charity shop) and two, falling in love with old clothes again by altering them. I lost a few button ups along the way during this one, but now I have a few that fit me perfectly and I got to play around with different materials and my sewing kit whilst doing so.
I am enjoying being proactive in my quest for confidence in my style and whilst finding things I can do, I have also stumbled upon some great things other people are doing, one of them being GDL Clothing. When they popped up in my Instagram feed, I was happy to have found brand that prides itself in breaking the boundaries of gender specific sections and making affordable clothing while doing so. They stock tees and accessories based on style, not gender and great ones at that! In my endeavour to find out more, I got in touch with brand creator Lucy Hayes and asked them a few questions.
How did it all start? What are your influences?
It all started in April/May 2015. The idea came about after I got fed up of finding clothing in gender specific sections, e.g. Topman, River Island men’s. I started hand-making a few unisex garments, printing my own t-shirts and creating a style that suited me. The more I wore the clothing, the more people asked where they were from, and this is where the journey began. My girlfriend, Laura-Amie, was onboard from the beginning, she built us a website and we started to narrow the products down ready for a launch.
The brand & logo ‘GDL Clothing’ stands for genderless clothing. We wanted to use this wording because after researching the market, the word ‘genderless’ wasn’t being used too often, but it was being talked about enough and we wanted to keep things original. Fast forward to October, we officially launched the brand with about 4 Instagram followers (ourselves!) and a friend that Laura went to school with joined us almost immediately after launching as the GDL photographer (Abigail Lewis). So here we are!
How do you define ‘genderless’ when it comes to your clothing?
The word genderless in context of our clothing, doesn’t direct the fashion at people who don’t identify as either gender/non-binary, it simply means whoever you are, you can shop at GDL. The genderless term to us means that we’re inclusive. We encourage equality, which is something that will always be in the foundation of the brand.
Gender specific shop sections are something that a lot of queer and non-binary people struggle with and by creating boundary breaking clothing you’re certainly apart of the current gender conversation. Was this intentional when you started the brand?
Yes and no! Having had personal experiences with shopping in gender specific sections to create a style that the clothing may not have necessarily been made for, then yes absolutely this is exactly what the brand does. We’re pushing boundaries by showing that one t-shirt can be worn by so many people and various styles. On the other hand, something that was really important to us when we started to build GDL was that our clothing was not specifically targeted at the LGBTQ community as this again can often give off an ‘us & them’ kind of message - we want equality for all, and we’d like to give everyone the opportunity to shop by style over gender. This of course doesn’t take away from the fact that we are huge supporters of gay, lesbian, bi, trans and non-binary people.
We appreciate the styles may not be to everyone’s taste, but we’re really proud to say that we’re part of a potential movement into a more equal and revolutionary way of shopping for clothing.
At the moment gender is being talked about more than ever before, do you think this will influence a shift in the binary attitude of high street fashion?
We really hope so. We think this is the perfect time to have launched because, like you say, this is such a hot topic at the minute. We’re keeping our eyes pealed for the ‘Stonewall’ movement that we’re hoping will see us move forward with non-binary terms, rights and access to many exciting possibilities. It would be fantastic to see gender-neutral changing rooms in stores, and hopefully gender-neutral clothing departments too.
What is your favourite part of doing what you do?
Lucy: For me, it’s knowing that people like myself, who have often felt pushed into a certain direction, could have the opportunity to shop openly without judgement. This was the main reason the brand was created and we will always want to keep that ethos. It’s really exciting to hear such great things being fed back to us, we didn’t realise the journey we would embark on with so many people. We’re a really small brand/company and for people to be so interested and excited about our brand is so flattering.
Laura: Combining style and gender equality into one. I love fashion, and I love the endless styles of how you can wear the clothing. Being very feminine myself, I like to wear some of my GDL tops with a denim skirt and boots, whereas Luc will wear hers with ripped jeans and converse. For me, the diversity of the brand is what I love most about what we do.
I enjoy everything about GDL, our team are brilliant and although we don’t all agree on everything, we’re all on the same page and GDL is constantly fresh.
Plus, I get to be a part of something I’m very passionate about, while promoting something as amazing as gender equality!
and finally, what does the future hold for GDL Clothing?
This is only just the beginning! As we’ve only recently launched, we’ve huge things planned for GDL’s future. We want to expand our ranges into a few categories of genderless clothing. We’ve just launched a racerback gym vest with the GDL emblem logo which can be worn to workout or as a casual summer look, so at the minute we’re exploring different styles and needs for clothing. We’ve just finished off a shoot featuring ‘Hype Gym’ who are backing the GDL concept, they seem to be quite excited about the brand.
We’re eventually hoping to get into stores. We want to create a genderless shopping space in high street stores as well as unique, quirky stores. It will be really interesting to see where the next movement of gender-neutral changing rooms takes us - we hope it kicks off as we’d like to be a huge part of this movement and development.
We’re constantly working on new products and designs, the ideas come very naturally to our work-flow, if we want to try something, we’ll give it go at the very least!
Finally, we’re also looking to support Pride Cymru this year which we’re incredibly excited about.
As an aside, we’ve been lucky enough to feature in a Wales Online article recently (http://www.walesonline.co.uk/lifestyle/fashion/women-created-genderless-clothing-after-10859353). They interviewed us about the brand and were extremely supportive of the concept. We’ve also recently been given the opportunity of shooting with international model, Sophie Lord. Sophie joined us for a location shoot at a really great cafe-bar called Gwdihw (if you’re ever in Cardiff, it’s worth visiting just for the experience!)
By Molly Adams