Data shows that an increasing number of people are identifying as transgender and non-binary, and it is leading to changes in the way some brands are making and marketing their products. According to Pew Research, 5 per cent of young adults in the United States now say their gender is different to that which they were assigned at birth. That figure is harder to track in Australia, due to self-admitted deficiencies in census data, which only tracked Australian’s sex, and not gender.
This article is for the Professionals
Only $4 USD for the first monthAlready a professional? Log in
sp; Pew Research found that younger people are far more likely to identify as non-binary, and noted that Generation Z makes up the majority of gender-diverse people. In the past, these customers would almost have been ignored by mainstream apparel brands, which traditionally designed products for men or women, but that is starting to change. Earlier this week, absorbent apparel brand Modibodi launched its first gender-neutral collection of period underpants. The ‘all-gender’ collection is aimed at ensuring that all people who menstruate are able to feel included in period care – including those who wear packers, an aid which creates a bulge in the pants to achieve the look of having a penis. Period care is already a taboo subject in many parts of society, and demystifying and normalising it is one of Modibodi’s key aims, the brand’s design and innovation director Charissa Lanham told Inside Retail. “When it comes to talking about periods, we believe everybody should be included in the conversation: women, non-binary and gender-diverse people and transgender men,” Lanham said. “That’s why we’re so proud to finally be able to offer this product, and provide a sustainable and dignified solution for all those who menstruate… You don’t have to pop out to the shops and face the gendered period aisle, it’s just like wearing a normal pair of underwear.” In order to cater to a wider variety of people, Modibodi went through 12 months of research, community consultation, team feedback, and worked with long-running LGBTQI+ service provider Twenty10 to help inform the direction of the range. Lanham said the design process was quite lengthy and thorough to ensure that the product met its customers’ needs. “So much thought and consideration goes into our innovation, and the all-gender range is a collection that really focuses on a customer need that we do not see enough of in the market,” Lanham said. “We’ll continue to grow and learn, educate ourselves, and provide a platform for the conversations around topics such as the relationship between periods and gender. We believe the more open and honest conversations we have, the closer we are to a more accepting, empathetic and humane society.” “I’m a man and it’s just part of my life.” Trans-masc model Oscar McGregor worked on the range with Modibodi, serving as a fit tester during the design process and giving advice on the relationship that trans people may have with their period. “Before I transitioned I had a really difficult time with my period,” McGregor told Inside Retail. “Having my period made me feel like a woman, and obviously that doesn’t feel nice when you’re a man. I just couldn’t help but think, ‘This isn’t right for me, not for my body’. But at the same time, I’ve spent almost 10 years transitioning, so my mindset has now shifted. “I do still get my period sometimes [on testosterone supplements]… and it has allowed me to come to the realisation that it’s okay – this is me and I’m a man and it’s just a part of my life.” Inclusive period underwear is important, McGregor said, because it allows him to use men’s bathrooms without needing a sanitary bin, and means he doesn’t need to purchase tampons and pads. “No one would have to know that you’re having your period at all if you didn’t want them to: you’re just wearing a pair of undies, like any other day.” “Part of a growing movement.” Modibodi is one of a growing number of apparel brands that are rethinking the way they design and sell products for non-cisgender customers. Bonds, for example, recently announced a limited-edition range of underwear designed and sold by shape and fit, rather than gender stereotypes. University of Technology Sydney’s design faculty academic Dr Emily Brayshaw told Inside Retail that these collections reflect a growing social movement to celebrate people outside of traditional gender norms. “It’s part of a growing movement of awareness and acceptance that is being picked up, particularly in the retail sector,” Dr Braysaw said. “It’s part of these really important conversations that we’re having, not just about gender, but about the diversity of our bodies. “[Modibodi’s range] is a wonderful extension of that.. Given that recognition that you don’t necessarily have to be a woman to still get a period – loads of different people have different bodily functions – and that gender is a construct and isn’t necessarily grounded in our biology.”Brayshaw noted that the more fashion moves away from categorising clothing strictly into men’s and women’s fashion, the more people can wear what they want and be comfortable.