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Beyond sex - Branding in a gender agnostic era.


We are choosing unisex clothing and names for our kids and encourage them to explore their identity beyond the traditional norms. At home we are increasingly sharing responsibilities in a way that showcases our belief that men and women no longer have traditional roles and behaviours. Equality is also rising in working places as profiling increasingly navigate around personality traits, individual skills and values rather than gender.

Portrayals of femininity and masculinity based on gender are becoming blurred, as androgyny and gender fluidity become the norm, rather than the exception.

Multiple countries legally recognize non-binary or third gender classifications and in Sweden the gender neutral pronoun ’hen’ has become the preferred phrasing to use in pre schools and workplaces.

Profiles like Miley Cyrus, Jacob Tobia and Ruby Rose being vocal about their personal experiences are giving the phenomenon a face and in the commercial landscape we see a number of brands exploring the gender fluid space. Brands like Minirodini, Acne and Aesop never set out to define their target groups by sex and last year cosmetics brand Cover Girl launched their ’so lashy’ campaign with a male model and Selfidges opened the Agender space. The same year Calvin Klein released fragrance CK2, a sequel to the 1994 unisex classic CK One, presenting the new fragrance as “gender free” in an effort to celebrate fluidity while “embracing how millennials explore their relationships, friendships, and sexualities.”

This shift is a direct reflection of Generation Z’s attitudes and values. Research suggests that Gen Z, more than any other generation before them are rejecting traditional gender stereotypes. According to a recent study 50 percent of millennials consider gender to be a spectrum, and that some people fall outside of conventional male/female categories.

The trend towards brands embracing inclusivity and adopting a gender-neutral stance is a movement on the rise and we are predicting it is here to stay. Brands need to study and understand the fundamentals of this socio-cultural shift in order stay relevant for the coming generation and furthermore they need to craft their experiences to resonate with a gender agnostic lifestyle, focusing on universal character traits, self-expression and passion.

To quote Lauren Friedman, Forbes columnist and head of Global Social Business Enablement at Adobe ”A new definition will take shape, with brands looking to align with this cultural movement by showing that they truly understand how a lack of labels is good not just for society, but business”.

Lina Öhlund




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