Times have changed since the 1960s and early ’70s when “unisex” clothing first hit the runways. Designers Pierre Cardin, Andre Courreges, Paco Rabanna and Mary Quant revolutionized the way people viewed fashion choices and paved the way for gender-neutral clothing in today’s market.
Although pinks for girls and blues for boys, born in the 1940s fashion scene, still seem to linger with their defining colours, the need for gender-neutral clothing has seeped into our stores and onto the runways.
For Gurminder Singh, founder of Qwerkee in BC, gender-neutral clothing was his guiding inspiration for designing clothes to meet the needs of his growing family.
“When my daughter was born, all we could find were pinks and gender-specific clothing,” Singh says. “With Qwerkee, we design clothing that can be handed down from sibling to sibling regardless of whether they are a boy or a girl.”
The original design, illustrated by Singh, is found with simple colours – grey and black and white and black.
“It is an easier shopping experience,” says Singh, an artist and illustrator. Materials are chosen carefully to ensure a long life, lasting long enough to be passed down and passed around. Adult designs are also available.
However, this gender-neutral clothing movement is not just about parity with self-identified genders or about making a trendy statement.
Many statistics show there’s an environmental crisis caused by textile waste. In Canada, the average person throws out 36.74 kgs of textiles annually, approximately 1,381 million kgs a year. It takes more than 200 years for clothing materials to decompose. Using good quality, gender-neutral clothing, we expand the life of clothes, potentially decreasing the number of textiles headed to the dump.
“Choose things reasonably priced, that have high-quality materials,” Singh says.
Qwerkee was launched in January 2021 and has grown quickly into a successful enterprise, highlighting the need for fun, gender-neutral apparel and a desire to be more environmentally conscious. Purchases are all online.
Qwerkee takes the sale beyond just the click of e-commerce with special wrapping and a personalized note of appreciation to each customer.
“Whether you are a new customer or a repeat customer, you are special to us, and each purchase feels like a gift when it arrives,” adds Singh.