It's strange how much of our lives have been defined by gender. Why do flight bookings ask for it? Why are most closed-door restrooms divided this way? Why is this still the dominant metric for separating toys? For naming children?
But the world has begun to alter its norms.
Following Target—which created a gender-neutral kids' collection last year—and, in a way, supermarkets like Système U in France, which demolished gender division in its toy section, Finnish department store Stockmann has created an entire gender-neutral shopping floor.
The concept is dubbed One Way, a shorthand for saying there's just one way to define style—your own.
"We believe that men's and women's departments should function as guidelines to finding the clothes that best fit your shape and style rather than definite rules to follow," says COO Anna Salmi of Stockmann, which in March changed its name to Stockwomann for International Women's Day.
"With One Way, we wanted to style and curate a selection of clothes that might not be designed 'unisex' but that work perfectly for all people. Our aim is to inspire customers to forget the rules and shop unbiasedly," Salmi adds.
The gender-neutral shopping floor is located between the men's and women's collections, appropriately enough on floor 1.5. It features brands like Acne Studios, Calvin Klein and Marimekko, all of which have previously created unisex styles—but now people can mix and match those neutral looks with gendered goods from brands like Burberry or Kenzo.
"Department stores especially tend to stick with outdated norms when it comes to how they allocate their offering under different departments," says Laura Paikkari, creative director at TBWA\Helsinki, which helped bring One Way to life. "At the same time, consumers are already buying quite liberally from both departments."
One Way launches just in time for Fashion Month.
"This is definitely a statement for equality," Paikkari continues. "And brands that take a stand for what they believe in are the ones who shape the future." Regardless, we imagine, of what trends dominate the runways in weeks to come.
Creative Agency: TBWA\Helsinki
Creative Director: Laura Paikkari
Creative Content Strategist: Janni Widerholm
Art Director: Anu Lehto
Copywriter: Anni Lindgren, Emma Kanninen
Designer: Atso Wilen
Social Media Manager: Iman Chellaf, Juulia Meuronen
Account Manager: Nana Paija, Emilia Repo
Production Ad: Harry Huttunen, Natalie Gustafsson