Gender portrayals have always been affected by societal constructs, and vice versa. Advertising and fashion have historically assisted in further promoting and portraying social constructs, norms and stereotypes, especially in regards to gender identities and expressions. Previous studies have investigated binary gender portrayals and stereotypes found in advertising and fashion; however, non-binary identities have gotten little attention from the academia. In fact, gender neutrality has yet to be explored. The present study aimed to address the existing literature and also research the informational gap by exploring two closely related topics: 1) the representation of gender neutrality as constructed on Instagram and campaign photo shoots by gender neutral fashion brands and fashion brands that traditionally create separate lines for the binary genders; and 2) the perception of Gen Z and Millenial consumers regarding gender neutrality as presented by these fashion brands. A dual qualitative research approach was selected, which included multimodal critical discourse analysis of Instagram posts and thematic analysis of in-depth interviews. Results are interpreted with an understanding of the limitations: Fashion brands are found to portray gender neutrality by challenging traditional binary stereotypes through their fashion designs, models selected, photo shoot settings and advertising captions. Respectively, it is found that consumers perceived gender neutrality portrayed by these fashion brands as challenging social binary stereotypes, namely through the fashion designs and the models selected, verifying the overarching theme.

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Dr. Anne-Mette Hermans
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Joanna Kappatou. (2022, June 7). Conceptualizing Gender Neutrality: A Multimodal Research on the Portrayal and Perception of Gender Neutrality by Fashion Brands and Consumers. Media & Business. Retrieved from