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At Flannels: Exploring Fluid Fashion

At Flannels: Exploring Fluid Fashion

Flannels blog article
At Flannels: EXPLORING Fluid Fashion

Fluid fashion – clothing that refuses to belong to one gender or genre – is more than a trend. Model Aaliyah Ramsey and choreographer Malik see fluid fashion as a way to express their multitudes, and a way to break down boundaries so more people can wear what they want.

Welcome to the latest series of AT FLANNELS – a series dedicated to shining a light on creativity and culture across the UK.

As a gender-fluid person – meaning I don’t experience my gender as one thing, but something that shifts over time – I find the way I dress varies from style to style, from one day to the next.

It makes sense when you think about it: There aren’t many people who would say that they only listen to one genre of music, so why do so many of us choose to dress in one particular way?

The queer model and activist Aaliyah Ramsey, who lives in Manchester, hard relates to this idea: “Music is a big thing that influences me. If I wake up and listen to Doja Cat, I could end up dressing more feminine. Or if it was 50 Cent, more masculine. If I listen to heavy metal, I might dress darker, and if it’s Ziggy Marley something flowier. It really depends on the mood.”


Aaliyah’s personal style mixes streetwear brands like Pleasures, Heron Preston and Off-White – usually bought in the menswear section – with more feminine clothes like crop tops and dresses, from brands like Retrofete.

“Growing up, I was a tomboy, so whenever I dressed more feminine people would always point it out. That made me self-conscious and I’d hardly ever wear a dress. But over the last four years, I think I’ve found the confidence to think, ‘it doesn’t matter if I’m more masculine or more feminine anymore, I’m just Aaliyah’.”

Fluid fashion, for Aaliyah, is related to the fact that they are nonbinary: “When people look at me they might see a woman but fluid fashion is how I express that I’m not – that I’m nonbinary.”


IT DOESN'T MATTER IF I'M MORE MASCULINE OR FEMININE ANYMORE, I'M JUST AALIYAH - AALIYAH.

Choreographer, model, and writer Malik Nashad Sharpe from London, feels similarly about fluid fashion: “I think the way I dress, and style and gender and personality, is about freedom, freedom to do your own thing and find your own path in the world.”

According to Malik, “Freedom is about potential to be who you want to be.” Perhaps that’s why, when I ask them about their fashion influences, they give me two very American references: New York, the city they’re originally from and a city filled with so many types of people. Think big t-shirts and baggy jeans, or activewear – like “underwear as outerwear” brand Les Boys Les Girls, says Malik of how New York manifests in their style.

The second influence is rockstars, which comes through in Malik’s love of punk, ripped clothes and emo aesthetics, but also glamour (see body con dresses). “There’s no one uniform rockstar look or definition of what a rockstar is,” which is partly what makes it fluid, Malik says, “but at the same time, it’s about being your own person.”



In the fashion industry, more fluid approaches have been on the rise of late – look at most major brands right now and fluid fashion is visible in the way they cast or create their campaigns.

Les Boys Les Girls make boxers that are worn by girls and bras that are worn by boys. Naked Wolfe’s trainers and platforms and Thierry Mugler’s body cons are worn by people of every gender. Plus more typically masculine streetwear garments from brands like Y3, Off-White and Heron Preston are now considered unisex and universal.

But fluid fashion is not just about brands breaking away from purely targeting people of one gender, or casting more queer models who don’t have a gender at all. More fashion influencers and celebrities are experimenting with the freedom to playfully mix and match. Take for example Harry Styles in ruffled shirts and skirts along with more masculine suits, or writer Jeremy O’Harris wearing a men’s tailored suit one day and a jumpsuit the next.

I THINK THE WAY I DRESS, AND STYLE AND GENDER AND PERSONALITY IS ABOUT FREEDOM TO DO YOUR OWN THING AND FIND YOUR PATH IN THE WORLD - MAlIK

Clearly, in 2021, it’s an accepted fact that you don’t need to stick to the traditional gender category when shopping online or in-store, or when deciding how to get dressed in the morning.


“We’re living in a zeitgeist moment for gender nonconformity,” muses Malik. “But we need to remember that the cultures around those identities have had fluidity for so long, like Two-Spirit people.”

As well as remembering where fluid fashion might come from, we should be celebrating how it’s created an era of more freedom for more people, Malik adds. “We’re learning that binary gender is not working for everyone or is causing a lot of pain for some people. That’s why we have more terms and we’re uncovering a lot of our history of fluidity to find new ways to dress right now. I think people are pushing for it, that society is understanding that whatever we were doing before was restrictive.”

Aaliyah agrees: “For me, fluid fashion just helps me express what I am feeling on the inside, and that just makes me more comfortable on the outside. You know that feeling when you put on an outfit and feel like, ‘this is such a me outfit’? That.”


FLUID FASHION JUST HELPS ME EXPRESS WHAT I AM FEELING ON THE INSIDE, AND THAT JUST MAKES ME MORE COMFORTABLE ON THE OUTSIDE - AALIYAH. 

Talent: Malik Nashad Sharpe and Aalyiah Ramsey, Director, photographer and music: Jade Danielle Smith, Creative and cultural production: Platform 13, Interview and words: Amelia Abraham, Hair and makeup: Britini Campbell, Locations: Somerset House, Milk&Honey Cafe.