This spring, Selfridges pushes the boundaries of gender in retail, through AGENDER – a fashion exploration of the masculine, the feminine and the interplay -or the blur – found in between. Moving away from the tradition of a societal – and sartorial – binary gender definition, Selfridges will take its customers on a journey where they can choose to shop and dress without limitations or stereotypes.
Designer Faye Toogood has designed the retail space stretching over three floors which is largely comprised of the most anti-luxurious, primal material she could find: chicken-wire mesh. Upstairs, mannequins have been supplanted by a series of sexless maquettes sculpted by Toogood from horsehair, tar and mud. Elsewhere, traditional tactics for creating enticing displays have been all but dispensed with.
“When you walk in, you won’t immediately see any of the clothes,” explains Toogood. “It has been a challenge convincing such a huge retail empire to really change the experience of shopping,” she adds. “By removing all traces of branding and visual merchandising, you allow people to make their own decisions about what they want to buy. Agender is as neutral as we could make it.”
“For us, AGENDER is not about harnessing a ‘trend’ but rather tapping into a mind-set and acknowledging and responding a cultural shift that is happening now. We will explore the relationship between gender and retail physically, digitally and in all of our stores. The project will act as a test bed for experimentation around ideas of gender – both to allow our shoppers to approach the experience without preconceptions and for us as retailers to move the way we shop fashion forward.” Says Selfridges’ creative director, Linda Hewson.
There is also a full takeover of the storefront windows, and as you can see below it looks quite fresh and experimental.