The World’s First Gender-Neutral Store Created Its Own Genderless Mannequin
The Phluid Project wants to empower people to embrace and express their identities.
In March, the Phluid Project opened what is reportedly the world’s first gender-neutral store in New York City. Instead of showcasing its clothing by gender, it organizes articles by aesthetic.
But in trying to do so Phluid Project founder, Rob Smith, initially hit a snag.
There were no commercially available genderless mannequins. So Smith set out to design one that would suit his needs, according to Mic.
Where other stores selling gender-neutral clothing simply forwent mannequins altogether, Smith wanted to tackle the challenge and create a truly gender-free shopping experience.
“I started with the foundation of a women’s intimate mannequin and adjusted it from there,” Smith said in an interview. “We’re the first gender-free store, so if more people started to open stores like us, or departments, there would definitely be a need for these mannequins,” he explained.
The Phluid Project aims to break down gender divides and foster acceptance.
“This is a welcoming, inclusive, diverse and safe space. Intolerance will not be tolerated,” the shop’s door reads.
The store creates a comfortable and inviting experience for gender-nonconforming and gender-fluid shoppers, Racked reported. Because the store does not categorize it’s offerings by gender, customers are free to browse and try clothing without fear of being discriminated against for their personal choices.
Gender-neutral clothing lines are becoming increasingly popular. Abercrombie & Fitch released gender-neutral clothing for kids earlier this year, while Zara released an “ungendered” clothing line in 2016, but received backlash for its limited offerings and lackluster aesthetic.
Smith hopes to avoid such criticism of the Phluid Project.
“I think a lot of people who created gender-free clothes, they just make these monochromatic, loose, drape-y clothes and say ‘Everybody could fit in this,’” Smith told Mic. “I don’t want to create loose, drape-y clothes which are unattractive in many ways. It doesn’t embrace or celebrate the body. It just makes it go away.”
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