How One Store is Trying to Ungender the Fashion Industry
Written by Allison Hupper
To float between the “men’s” and “women’s” sections of a retail store has become a normal practice; gendered clothing lines are not only the prevailing standard, but the reality. Now, however, this reality is being challenged by Phluid, the first physical non-gender specific retail store.
After working as a retail executive for over 30 years,The Phluid Project’s founder Rob Smith made it his mission to create a space free of judgment and limitations on self expression. Phluid, based out of the NoHo section of Manhattan, opened up in March of 2018, and has already received notable press from publishers ranging from the New York Times to Teen Vogue.
The store sells a range of clothing, from strictly gender neutral brands like One DNA, to big brands with traditional male/female categories, like Champion and FILA. Some of Phluid’s biggest sellers include their graphic tees and hoodies, apparel with rainbow “RESIST!” written across the chest, and “phucking vote!” t-shirts. These are just a few among many articles of clothing that carry Phluid’s message out on the streets of NYC and beyond.
Furthering Phluid’s message in its role as a clothing store, the brand’s gender non-conforming and non-specific models challenge tradition. On Phluid’s website, one model sports a beard, tight crop top, and winged eyeliner while the founder of “Official Rebrand,” who is gender non binary dons a messy, neon orange semi-bowl cut with an orange baggy t-shirt and red knee-length shorts. Why does it even have to be a social statement for anyone to wear a comfy grey sweatsuit?
Phluid additionally takes a multifaceted approach to continue their dedication of inclusivity and solidarity, going beyond the expectations of a typical clothing store. Phluid triples as a coffee shop and community space, hosting events like “National Coming Out Day Open Mic” and book launching parties.
The Phluid Project may just be one store, but its outspoken acceptance and inclusion of everyone is a sizable step to broadening our view of gender “normality” and fulfilling the demand that the younger generations have voiced to destroy ingrained and predetermined expectations of self-expression.