Delhi-based designers are making fashion gender neutral hit

In an age when gender-neutral fashion is somewhat of a marketing gimmick, we speak to two designers who have embraced this ideology from the inception of their brand.

author_img Simi Kuriakose Published :  11th July 2022 01:14 PM   |   Published :   |  11th July 2022 01:14 PM
label Anaam

Collections from Sumiran Kabir Sharma’s label Anaam

The subconscious move one makes when they walk into a store or log on to an e-commerce site to shop for clothing, is to usually make their way to the section where one can find options for their gender. Clothing has, mostly, been restricted by gender norms. Sometimes, the lines do blur; when it comes to traditional wear—the kilt worn by Scottish men or the Indian kurta-pyjama. In an age when gender-neutral fashion is somewhat of a marketing gimmick, we speak to two designers who have embraced this ideology from the inception of their brand. 

Gender no bar

South Delhi-based Anvita Sharma (31) recounts how, while growing up, she hardly ever overheard or engaged in conversations beyond the gender binary. It was after she went to fashion school at Istituto Marangoni—Milan for her bachelor’s degree and Paris for her master’s—that she became aware of thought processes unlike the ones common on home ground. “I realised we do not need categorisation in clothes,” Anvita shares.

Her idea was simple: fashion was a medium for her to make a change, and this was the opportunity. “Not everyone can be social activist, and everyone does things differently. I thought my clothes can be more than just about the physical article of clothing. That is how Two Point Two started,” adds Anvita.

Details, elements, techniques, and hues considered both masculine and feminine are merged in Sharma’s all-inclusive, non-demographic label, Two Point Two—her first collection launch was in August 2017. She adds, “In India, a man might not wear a skirt because we automatically associate it with female clothing. But in reality, those are definitions created by society. Also, they are reversible. We need to normalise fitted clothes, lace blouses, and other such outfits for men without treating them as being gay. That is what I feel I am doing,” she concludes.

On a personal level
“Subconsciously, children do not know gender language. It is what we give them,” says Gurugram-based Sumiran Kabir Sharma (31), founder of Anaam. Having been brought up in a small village in Himachal Pradesh, gender-neutrality was effortless, Sumiran shares. “My mother would wear my dad’s clothes and not a dupatta because of functionality. My elder sister’s clothes were handed down to me because that is what sustainability is for the middle class. I would end up wearing T-shirts and pyjamas with frills,” Sumiran adds.

When Sumiran moved to the city to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering, there was a phase of accepting the gender binary. “However, when I got into fashion [bachelor’s in fashion design from Pearl Academy], I got a platform for the work that I wanted to do.”

After winning the Woolmark Best Talent in 2013, Sumiran launched Anaam in 2014. The collections usually focus on drapes and silhouettes, “I have always worked on drapes, which have been used in Indian culture. I have always looked into Indian mythology, history and culture [for inspiration]—we were known for women and men wearing drapes.”

Talking about genderless clothing, Sumiran concludes, “My personal take is that the two extremes—the poor and the rich—don’t care about what they wear. I go to villages in Gujarat, and see men wearing pink kurta-pyjamas, kohl, etc. You can put the same thing on the Paris Fashion Week runway and it will become a trend. But people in villages are doing it effortlessly because they have no other option.”