If the younger generation has taught us anything, it’s that things aren’t always meant to fall into neat little buckets. Rules are meant to be broken. Black and white doesn’t always cover it.
Thanks to evolution in technology as well as mindset, Generation Z is encouraging the world to ditch restrictive labels and embrace fluidity like never before. From fashion to sexuality and more, the season of non-conformity is shaping our future for the better – and it’s time to take notice.
Fashion has always served as a looking glass to societal changes, so it’s no surprise that the industry has been quick to reflect our shifting attitudes towards gender fluidity and those who identify as non-binary. Take New York Fashion Week organiser The CFDA, who added ‘unisex/non-binary’ as a new category in February this year. And with each fashion week, we’re seeing more designers producing gender-neutral collections.
is one of a growing number of luxury brands merging men’s and women’s collections on the catwalk. Its Spring Summer 2018 presentation featured an eclectic blend of ready-to-wear and accessories modelled interchangeably on either gender.
To put our own ELLE spin on the latest Gucci Eyewear collection, ELLE UK chose to style the signature frames on men and women, celebrating the line that took its cues from Elton John and ’70s glam rock. Purple-lensed aviators, oversized ’70s-style reading glasses and bottle-thick black square shades serve as a reminder of the fun and fluidity of modern fashion, of a trend that can flow effortlessly from one face to another.
But it’s not just the rise of androgyny contributing to fluid fashion. Style rules seem to be broken more often than they’re followed and unlikely pairs have become the norm: trainers and suits, sandals and socks, sequins and distressed denim, evening wear and athleisure.
“These are fluid days; the same fluidity that our fingers interpret on the smartphone screen,” says Matteo Guarnaccia, psychedelic artist, author and costume historian. “These are the days of the exceptions overcoming the rules, of the homologated differences.”
Sexuality and Gender
From Cara Delevingne to Kristen Stewart and Janelle Monáe, media representation of sexual fluidity and those who identify as LGBTQ+ is on the rise. High-profile celebrities are more outspoken than ever about their widening sexual spectrum – and being attracted to whomever we like, regardless of gender, no longer shocks in the way it once did.
According to The Office for National Statistics in 2016, 4.1% of people in the UK aged 16 to 24 identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual (the largest age group). And the way people are identifying is changing as our labels become less restrictive. The LGBTQ+spectrum now includes pansexual, omnisexual, polysexual and more.
The term ‘gender-fluid’ was also added to the English Oxford dictionary in 2017, reflecting a growing recognition and acceptance of people who identify outside the traditional gender binary. The rise of trans and non-binary actors, models and athletes is contributing to an era of openness and inclusivity.
“Greater and more diverse representations of LGBT people help ensure all people see themselves reflected in what they watch or read,” comments Kim Sanders, Head of Media Engagement at LGBT equality charity Stonewall. “Representation helps to increase understanding and acceptance of the diversity of the LGBT community.”
Recent studies suggest that the chances of a young adult on a middle income owning a home in the UK have more than halved in the past two decades. Generation Z, however, are tackling the issue with an expected level of fluidity and flexibility, choosing to flock from expensive major cities such as London in favour of smaller seaside towns like Margate and Glasgow’s up-and-coming Southside. These areas now lure creative younger crowds with the promise of a more relaxed lifestyle, cheap rent and affordable property.
Others are opting out of the UK completely, choosing to take advantage of the freedom of freelance life and travel the world as they work. Technology has helped break the chains that tied previously generations to their desk.
Logging on from co-working spaces in Bali while surrounded by picturesque white beaches and calming rice fields? Now that’s what we call wanderlust.
While great importance was once placed on the 9-5 and holding down a stable job, a growing number of professionals are eschewing that traditional trajectory and finding greater flexibility in the wonders of the Internet.
From café working to juggling a range of gigs and clients at the same time, the power and potential of technology is changing both our lifestyles and career paths.
“Work fluidity is definitely on the rise,” says Emma Gannon, author of The Multi-Hyphen Method – a book about designing your own career. “Whether that’s leaving jobs more often, having multiple jobs at once, asking for flexibility at work or not being so attached to one job title, the workplace is in a huge state of flux. We don’t know what the world will look like in another five years, so upskilling and diversifying your CV has become much more important.”
This article originally appeared on elle.com