WHY SELLING GENDER NEUTRAL FASHION MIGHT BE THE NEXT STEP?
Kleiner Perkins seems like it has been around forever. In the early days of Amazon, Google and Twitter, Kleiner Perkins had backed them, and now their backing an ambitious start up business again, Re-inc. Re-Inc is a gender neutral fashion and lifestyle brand started by US women’s soccer star and gender equality activist Megan Rapinoe, along with her teammates Meghan Klingenberg and Christen Press.
People have been demanding for more inclusion and diversity in the fashion industry. With a company like Kleiner Perkins backing a brand that rethinks the traditional gender norms that have been embedded in our society for centuries; it is also a perfect opportunity to make money.
“There’s a shift happening around what fashion looks like and who people look up to as role models, and I felt like they had an opportunity to be leading the charge on some of that” says Annie Case who is the principal for Kleiner Perkins.
When speaking about the brand Meghan Klingenberg said that “it was less about wanting to push into fashion. We think a lot about both online and offline communities and human expression, and this was a really interesting example of fashion as a wedge into these broader communities and beliefs.” The funding will also allow them to “communicates that everyone-including investors-are ready for change. New leaders and new business concepts.”
Supporting Re-inc is a step in the right direction, especially for LGBTQIA+ consumers, who investors are slowly starting to pay more attention to. In June, Loud Capital in Ohio announced their Pride Fund 1, where they pledged to start investing $10 million for companies led by people from the LGBTQIA+ community, with a few brands already been considered. We are still in the early stages for a market opportunity like this to be tested fully. However, studies have found that 27% of Gen Z have an interest in gender neutral fashion- and want more of it!
For Rapinoe “we felt like the world is moving in a gender-fluid direction, and we’re seeing it too. Fashion is a bit all over the place…and we saw the opportunity to really break through binary gender norms.”
Re-inc was founded last year in the middle of a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, three days before the start of the Women’s World Cup, fighting to be paid more equitably, as well as winning the World Cup. Annie Case played soccer with Christen Press when they were at uni and invested because “they stand for so much more than just the t-shirt. As the world transforms rapidly, we need a reset. We are looking to disrupt the male-dominated fashion industry by making clothing for all, made by women.”
“It’s individuals who are pushing boundaries and redefining what fashion is. For so long, we developed fashion in spheres of male and female,” according to Olly Awake who helped open his eyes to gender neutral fashion. However as society progresses, these ideas about gender will continue to push the boundaries.