More Than Just Clothing

The celebration of self-expression and overcoming gender lines in the fashion industry

David Bowie was known for his sexual ambiguity and androgynous fashion in the 1970s.


British fashion designer Alexander McQueen once said, “Fashion should be a form of escapism, and not a form of imprisonment.” McQueen’s current creative director, Sarah Burton, took that to heart while incorporating moths and butterflies into the Alexander McQueen Fall 2016 Men’s Collection. The male models were all dressed in traditional archetypal Renaissance British tailoring as they strutted down the runway. They embodied contemporary, yet dark and romantic accents such as the adornment of facial accessories, sharp and masculine jaw lines and cheek bones.

While this is a menswear line, there are features that seem to hint at what has traditionally been withheld solely for female fashion, woven within the traditional suits, trousers and coats. Even with Burton’s use of butterflies, moths and flowers or the ribbon attached to the velvet hemming of the coats, it was still clear that this was a high fashion line intended for males.

In a world where in the past one’s masculinity could be challenged by wearing something too ‘feminine’, men’s fashion has been evolving in a very unparalleled way. By breaking down the barriers of constricting gender roles, the fashion world is experiencing a shift from the classic men’s and women’s lines to more gender-fluid styles which blur the traditional lines that have been etched into our society. This gives not only women, but men as well, the opportunity to use fashion as a way of self-expression.

Every era we’ve witnessed has had a style and pop culture icons that correlate with it. Whether it be Mick Jagger’s plump lips, unbuttoned blouses and exquisite use of accessories, the king of grunge, Kurt Cobain, wearing ripped jeans, flannels and circle sunglasses or the late David Bowie with his androgynous mindset and multiple personas, all of these men shaped their generation.

Those were more liberal times where creativity was cherished instead of trashed. However, in the more recent generation, Men’s fashion has become restricting and rigid, mostly because of how judgmental our society has become. The idea that one’s masculinity can be compromised because of their fashion choices is unfortunate and sadly, realistic. However, the high fashion industry is fighting back and advocating free expression for all.

Jordan Douglas, of JacobxJordan, making last adjustments to model, Jack Page, before shoot.


Professional stylist and co-founder of JacobxJordan, a lifestyle brand specializing in wardrobe styling and production, 22-year-old Jordan Douglas views high fashion as an exciting fantasy world with no boundaries and no judgment that everyone dreams of living in.

As someone who works primarily in menswear, Douglas brings up the fact that fashion is set apart from normal wear by the confidence and grace it requires.

“Anyone can wear jeans and a top,” she said. “But high fashion allows so much imagination. I commend those who can walk down the streets of L.A. in something more avant-garde.”

Jaden Smith, son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, made headlines by being one of the faces for Louis Vuitton’s Spring-Summer 2016 Collection. The 17 year old, known for being a rebellious figure when it comes to stereotypical gender ideology, donned an embellished skirt, fringed shirt, leather jacket and a pair of loafers in the teaser images and womenswear campaign video.


From a professional standpoint, Douglas applauds Louis Vuitton for going against the marketing game of playing it safe by incorporating Smith, who has a large and influential platform and is a voice of today’s youth.

As the streets of Manhattan start to flood with eager and enthusiastic models running from casting to casting leading up to the highly acclaimed New York Fashion Week, Jack Page, a 19-year-old model signed to Ford Models, expresses how the industry has always pushed boundaries and that masculinity is just a concept that evolves in every society.

Page’s first runway show was with Duckie Brown, a New York-based fashion line created by Steven Cox and David Silver, where he and fellow models walked down the runway in a gender neutral collection.

“Gender neutrality isn’t really guys wearing dresses and girls wearing suits,” he said. “Those pieces of clothing are already gender specific. Gender neutral clothing is an entirely new design and we have barely seen the true potential of it.”

Although his job is to adhere to the designers’ commands, Page has his own personal views on fashion that derive from the concept that it’s more than just clothing and comes from one’s own identity.

“Fashion is the intertwining and flow between you and clothes. It’s one of the ultimate forms of self-expression.”

Jack Page for Duckie Brown S/S 2016. Photography courtesy of Alexander Thompson.


Awards show season is a time where women are given the opportunity to dress up in a various array of designer fashion. Iconic looks include Angelina Jolie’s signature black dress and emerald earrings from the 2012 Oscars, Lady Gaga’s infamous meat dress from the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards or Alexa Chung in a plaid suit at the ELLE Style Awards in 2012. Men are usually seen wearing a simple black, grey or navy suit, that is, until Harry Styles came along.

Harry Styles at the American Music Awards Los Angeles, Calif. on Nov 22, 2015. Photo courtesy of Wire Images.


The 21-year-old member of One Direction has always made a statement with his fashion choices, but he shocked millions of people when he showed up to the 2015 American Music Award’s in a floral bell-bottom Gucci suit, topped off with a black flower bolo tie, sparkly heeled boots and his long, brown curly hair draping over his shoulders.

This wasn’t the first time he had been embraced the creative flair associated with the glam-rock era. Styles has a history of donning high fashion designers such as Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent and Gucci, and taking the risk of wearing clothing that can be seen as gender-bending.

Douglas explains that Styles probably uses fashion as a subtle rebellion against the rigid lines of his celebrity status.

“I think since he’s had such a controlled life over the years that fashion has become his comfort and way of speaking to the world [about] who he is,” said Douglas.

One Direction’s Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Harry Styles at the American Music Award’s in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov 22, 2015. Photo courtesy of Wire Images.


As a celebrity who is constantly in the media and has a dedicated fan base, Styles’ sense of expression through fashion and drastic transition can be seen as an inspiration for those attempting to channel their inner Mick Jagger and let their freak flag fly. As for his AMAs attire, “The other boys that played it safe with all black should be thanking him, honestly,” Douglas said. “Rock on, Harry Styles.”

After the sudden and tragic loss of David Bowie, the world reminisced on how the legend intertwined the music, acting and fashion industries, all while completely being his true and genuine self. From his use of face paint to the costumes he wore on and off stage, Bowie was a person that inspired many people to be themselves. One such person is Brandon Hudson, an 18-year-old guitarist for his and his sister’s band, The Heirs.

By growing up in a household where ‘70s classic rock, glam, disco and ‘80s pop were favorited, Hudson was surrounded by rock-n-rollers such as Robert Plant of Led Zepplin, Jim Morrison of The Doors, Mick Jagger of The Rolling Stones and of course, the star man, David Bowie. He reminisces on how his admiration of the rock stars subtly integrated themselves into his life.

“As I grew up more, these little things ended up impacting me on my everyday persona, ankle boots and slacked unbuttoned shirts included,” said Hudson.

As a young male who already has a recording contract with Capitol Records, Hudson is very much living the rock star lifestyle. Being in the music industry, Hudson uses his fashion sense to allow others to create an identity for him by simply looking at his fashion choices.

“To me, fashion is the first visual impression of how people will perceive you as well as your art.”

Hudson’s style has effeminate flair, or what could be considered as feminine qualities in comparison to traditional menswear, which is a trait that many are afraid to tackle due to their masculinity being compromised for their fashion choices. Hudson’s fascination with rock stars and the attitudes or personas they carried made him want to tell stories with what his clothing choices.

Hudson playing guitar during The Heirs rehearsal. Photo by Daniel Davis.


“It was as if the artists were physical representations of what they stood for. Dropping masculinity and femininity and just being — I loved that idea,” he said. “Fully embracing the sensitivity, the angst and the lust that I’m creating sonically, and wearing it on my sleeve for all to see when they look at me. That’s my own take on men’s or woman’s wear, just being exactly who I am in the stories I tell.”

Ultimate self-expression is what the major goals of the fashion industry are. Former creative director for Dior, Raf Simons once said, “I don’t want to show clothes. I want to show my attitude, my past, present and future.” Jack Page, Jordan Douglas and Brandon Hudson are three young, creative minds that are all deeply passionate about fashion and what pieces of clothing can convey.

In regards to those who don’t understand their innovation in the fashion industry and are judgmental, Hudson said, “I choose to look towards the past, before social media, before any kind of status equality, to when being different was accepted a lot less than it is now. The select few who wanted to make an impact with the art they were making dared to be bold, risking their own selfish identity publicly for the sake of the art they were creating. And with that sacrifice, becoming some of the most influential people among our modern society. I feel that with being different, you’re pulling the weight of representing the ones who are afraid to do so and creating a pact of young people who will begin to do the same.”

Jordan Douglas added, “For those with a judgmental view, I say wake up and smell the roses, man. And then wear those roses proudly on your pant suit.”

She also speaks about how the fashion industry isn’t taken as seriously as it should, but the constant fight for respect is worth it. “ Fashion lets you be whoever the hell you want to be and I think that’s really just the most beautiful thing ever.”

Whatever your personal style may be, the clothes you wear are one way to express yourself whether you are a male or a female. The limits to fashion are endless and the high fashion industry will keep being innovative and revolutionary. Gender roles are being broken and beautiful clothing is being made, don’t be late to the grandeur that is self-expression through fashion.