Gender-Free Shopping Is A Movement, Not A Trend

by MR Magazine Staff

Jillian Brooks remembers shopping when she was 6, standing paralyzed between the boys and girls section of Sears, at the Natick Mall in Framingham, Massachusetts. She can still see the fluorescent lights refracting off the white tiles as her mother pulled flannel shirts and pairs of jeans from the boy’s section, waving them above her head. With a nod or shake of her head, Brooks stood in no man’s land and signaled her decision. On days when she felt brave enough to enter the boy’s section, the pair created an alter ego. “Do you think Derrick would like this?” her mother would ask. “I knew to a degree that I wasn’t allowed to be in the boys section unless I was shopping for a boy,” Brooks tells me, calling shopping for clothes one of her first memories of “total unalignment” (6 was also the year she wore a tuxedo to her cousin’s bar mitzvah). At 31, she looks back on the experience as having shaped her existence. “It was this gamification we made of this process that was actually quite confusing and sad for a young child, to be like, ‘I don’t know where to go,’” she says. Now, Brooks is the content director for The Phluid Project, a gender-free retail space that celebrates its grand opening today in New York City. The 3,000-square-foot store is bathed in white, with large windows and high ceilings. Located a stone’s throw from the heart of Soho, it’s part retail, part “experiential platform,” aimed toward gender-nonconforming and genderfluid consumers. It’s self-purportedly the first gender-free retail space in the world. Read more at Racked.