BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

The BoF Podcast: Clothes Have No Gender

At VOICES 2019, performance artist and designer Alok Vaid-Menon lifted the lid on fashion’s ‘regressive’ gender stereotypes and urged the industry to ‘de-gender’ and redefine the meaning of beauty.
Alok Vaid-Menon speaks during #BoFVOICES | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion

To subscribe to the BoF Podcast, please follow this link.

OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — "Gender neutrality is not the death of fashion — it is the renaissance of fashion," declared performance artist and designer Alok Vaid-Menon at BoF VOICES 2019. They began with a powerful spoken word delivery championing the beauty of transgender and non-binary people.

In their impassioned address, Vaid-Menon revealed that they were once cut from a shoot by a major fashion publication after overhearing the photographer whisper to the editor, “Do you want the best photo, or do you want the politically correct photo?”

It is because of dealings like this that Vaid-Menon called for the industry at large to be held accountable for proliferating an archaic notion of beauty and what it means to be considered “high-fashion.”

“My beauty is so tremendous it has to be edited out of magazines and movements… just to prove it does not exist,” they said.

The author has shared a YouTube video.You will need to accept and consent to the use of cookies and similar technologies by our third-party partners (including: YouTube, Instagram or Twitter), in order to view embedded content in this article and others you may visit in future.

Vaid-Menon encouraged companies to revise hiring structures and amplify trans and non-binary representation at a senior leadership level, stressing the need for a diverse range of genders, races and sizes on runway shows and in campaigns — and “not just [in the] perfunctory Pride collections, which at this point are so unimaginative they feel positively homophobic.”

They also reminded the global thought-leaders, executives and entrepreneurs in the audience of what representation shouldn’t look like: the notion that trans people are “newly in-fashion” and the use of cis heterosexual models to promote gender neutral clothes in marketing campaigns and publications.

Vaid-Menon — who has created and modelled three gender neutral collections over the past few years under their namesake brand — urged the industry to question whether binary fashion week shows still hold value and if it is time to move beyond “gender-segregated stores and men’s magazines and women’s magazines."

To learn more about VOICES, BoF's annual gathering for big thinkers, visit our VOICES website, where you can find all the details on our invitation-only global gathering.

Subscribe to BoF Professional for unlimited access to BoF articles, plus exclusive benefits for members. For a limited time, enjoy a 25 percent discount on the first year of an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail

In This Article

© 2023 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Beauty
Analysis and advice on the fast-evolving beauty business.

Despite being known for their body positivity, young people are buying into anti-ageing products and procedures more than ever and earlier than ever. How will they grow old?

Once seen as a last-minute impulse purchase, bite-sized products are becoming a main attraction for prestige brands and retailers looking to widen their customer base.

view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
Voices 2023 Live
© 2023 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
Voices 2023 Live