The founders of a new underwear company say they want to “degender fashion” and believe that the future of the industry will be gender free clothes for everyone.
Urbody, a non-binary undergarments company that launched in March founded by friends Mere Abrams (who goes by they/them) and Anna Graham (she/her), believe that the fashion industry is not keeping up with societal conversations around gender.
“Fashion is ahead of the curve when it comes to traditional norms but in other ways it’s far behind,” said Graham. “The very fabric of the industry is grounded in a binary understanding of bodies and self-expression.”
She added: “There’s the men’s section and the women’s and everyone is assumed to be cisgender or gender conforming. I don’t believe that that is where the future of fashion is headed.”
Fashion labels like Art School have been boundary pushing in terms of deconstructing gendered dress codes, while pop culture moments like Harry Styles’ wearing a dress on the cover of US Vogue have also kept the conversation going on gender in the fashion industry.
But Graham said the industry still has a long way to go.
“While it is wonderful that we’re seeing more and more gender diversity on magazine covers, we want to see just as many trans, nonbinary and gender non-conforming people at the table making decisions and having input. Gender inclusivity should be woven into all facets of the industry,” Graham said.
Urbody is the first underwear of its kind to make classic, Calvin Klein and Skims-esque undergarments designed to help people “outwardly dress for who they are within”, according to their website, however they might identify.
These items include bralettes for those without a bust and packing underwear to create the illusion of a bulge.
Abrams recalls a formative experience with underwear as a seven-year-old. “One of my first memories of navigating underwear options is sneaking into my brother’s room to steal a pair of his Batman briefs. The style and thick waistband, which I associated with masculinity, captured my attention and curiosity,” Abrams said.
Abrams internalised many messages about gendered clothes at an early age. “All I knew was that those were the kinds of underwear that felt right for me,” Abrams added.
Dr Shaun Cole, an associate professor in fashion at the University of Southampton and the author of The Story of Men’s Underwear, said: “I think when one considers oneself gender neutral, it is critical that one’s wardrobe is sympathetic and supportive of that body. This may mean that there is a requirement for bespoke services for underwear.”