Fashion among gender identity, expression and responsibility: BENNU meets Luce.


A slow restart.

I hear the world gasping for breath, and I with it.

When I first discovered the true face of global warming, I was eighteen years old. I don't mean that no one had ever explained to me what it was, but I had never understood its real consequences, its causes, but most importantly, I had never understood the urgency of change. On top of that, after furthering my studies on the concept of gender, and my subsequent coming out as a non-binary person, I finally opened my eyes to the binary captivity of the fashion industry. Male, female, stop. I remember the mockery spent on a friend of mine who had dared to put on a pink shirt. Colors, especially colors, are also not for everyone.

It doesn't take much to feel lost in front of a system greater than ourselves, and so two paths stretch out ahead of us: resign or fight with limited chances of winning. Putting all the responsibility on the action of the individual is the easiest way to absolve the powerful of all blame, but it is a fallacious strategy. Does this then mean that my actions don't matter? If I decided to give an exam without ever having opened a book, nine out of ten, I would fail, my actions would then have an immediate result. To every action there is a reaction, even when it is not visible, tangible, graspable. Realizing that one's existence has weight in the world is scary.

The term "fast fashion" refers to the clothing industry that produces low quality clothing at bargain prices.

What characterizes it is also and above all the speed with which it launches new collections. Always new clothes at affordable prices and available on every corner of the planet, great right? Still, my mother always told me to never trust things that shine too much. In a world where water is basically a luxury good, how is it possible that these companies can afford to sell their products at such low prices?

What we don't pay for is paid for by someone else. A low-cost T-shirt means low-cost production. If the T-shirt I chose costs 5 euros, how much was the worker paid? What about the fabric? And what production techniques were used? What chemicals were used? If there are billions of T-shirts like mine, when the next collection arrives, where will the unsold ones go? All it takes is a quick Google search to find the answer to these questions, but I assure you, you won't like what you find out.

"Slow fashion" is the antithesis of damage.

A different proposal, where the uniqueness and the care of the piece constitute the heart of its charm. Redimensioning our relationship with consumption is certainly not an easy task when the totality of our existence is directed towards novelty. Thus, we poor greedy people allow ourselves to be misled by whatever shines. I was raised to believe that you couldn't wear the same dress two days in a row, that last year's pants should be thrown out, that the shirt from the old collection smelled stale. I got used to evaluating everything based on what others thought, buying blindly, impulsively, hoping to keep up. But keeping up with whom? How can we expect to win if our opponent is a car and we are on foot?

BENNU understood in which direction we were going, felt us harried, confused, lost and so they decided to rebel. Creating clothes with a story, giving new life to something that was supposed to be forever forgotten, breaking the rules of the genre to create garments for everyone.

What differentiates expression from gender identity?

Basically, gender identity is the gender you feel you belong to, and it doesn't always correspond to the sex assigned at birth. Gender expression is on another level, it is in fact about how we decide to present ourselves to the world through tools, such as clothes, makeup, haircut, body language and in general what we call "appearance". The ways we use to express ourselves may or may not match the gender we identify with. How can an industry like fast fashion, where quantity matters more than quality, take care of our multiplicity? It can't and won't. By basing ourselves on large numbers, we automatically eliminate all those non-conforming identities that sit on either side of the roadway.

I've been wondering for years now how it is possible for an inanimate object to have a gender, how is it possible for a piece of cloth to be banned from an entire category of people?

This separatism is what helps the system work, because if there are defined categories, there will always be a class that is worth more than another, and this makes it so that power can be so freely exercised, based on biological principles. Now let's ask ourselves, in 2021, can we still believe in biological determinism? Clothes, like emotions, belong to everyone. Tears are not feminine, they are human, skirts, they are not girly, they are universal. What would ever happen, if each of us started to dress as we like without following a set rule? What is the worst thing that could parade before our eyes if a guy went out with nail polish and eyeliner? The definitions of woman and man with which we were raised are comfortable, because they give security, but it is an illusory certainty, which wobbles as soon as someone dares to break the established order. The problem is that those who break the norm, those who challenge power, risk, a lot, every day.

BENNU understood this and decided to create a brand that was free from genders and sizes, "recovering from the past to protect the future". We cannot remain uninvolved, it is not enough, close our eyes and live quietly in our own little garden, not while there is a war out there. We are an active part of the game, whether we choose to be or not, and as an active part we must choose sides. But beware, those who have the illusion of not taking a stand, it's time to look around, because silence is in itself a choice.

Luce Scheggi

Luce, 23, non-binary intersectional activists. 
Here spot with a sartorial vest reinterpreted by BENNU with all over gold appliqués. 

Discover more about BENNU here.