A band of new-age Chinese fashion designers is set to change the fashion world with their up-and-coming rule-defying collections. With their gender-bending clothing series, they stand opposite of the gender binary and traditional notions of the male gaze. In the recent Shanghai Fashion Week, the revolutionary label Sultry Virgin debuted with their forward-thinking and thought-provoking collections. They were joined by other gender-fluid labels like Ponder.er, Do Not Tag, Anno Mundi, and Group Therapy all flaunting a number of unisex items. All these labels are ardently following the trend-setting path of internationally acclaimed Chinese fashion designer Zhou Rui, whose gender-bending label Rui recently co-won the prestigious LVMH Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Prize.
The Sultry Virgin
In the Shanghai Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2022 runaway event, Sultry Virgin opened their show ‘The Fem Beach’ with a dreadlock-clad female model in a green laced-up bralette, holding a cocktail glass accompanied by pool boys. She walked across the room and sat down on a beach chair to watch the other models flaunt the remaining collection. According to the label’s co-founder Xu Yan and Wang Qiuge, their brand’s vision is to defy the male gaze, but without any hostility toward the men. By their ultimate new-age chick-flick, the label aims to rise a global female consciousness by giving full-reign freedom of choice and pride to the girls and women worldwide.
Another newfound expressive label challenging the preconceived notions of gender and sexuality on the fashion runaway is Ponder.er. The creative duo Alex Po and Derek Cheng both faced discrimination in their childhood in Hong Kong for not being ‘manly.’ They channeled their childhood pain and experience in breakthrough fashion designs changing the definition of traditional menswear. The brand’s new collection is titled ‘Love for Speed’ and is full of youthful energy. It opposes enforced masculinity on young boys and men, encouraging them to accept and freely express their own softer sides. Blurring the lines of gender identity, the label along with other new-age brands is making a responsible mark by giving a powerful voice to the global LGBTQ community.