For queer youth, participating in everyday activities has an added layer of dread. For example, shopping. Shopping may seem like an ordinary activity, but it can be extremely stress-inducing searching for clothes that are not overtly masculine or feminine. In a world that defines so much based on outward appearance, finding fashionable, fun apparel can feel impossible.
Rob Smith recognized this reality and wanted to create a safe, creative space for the queer youth community. The Phluid Project was born out of this vision.
The Phluid Project was founded in March 2018. Trademarked as “the world’s first gender-free store,” the shop resides both online and in NoHo, New York City. However, this outlet is beyond just simple retail. “Part-retail, part-community, The Phluid Project is a safe and inclusive space,” the company’s tagline reads. “Come in and explore as we go beyond the binary.”
From the very beginning, the purpose of The Phluid Project was always to create a space that not only normalizes but celebrates the beauty of gender expression—or lack thereof.
But good intentions don’t always follow through to the product. In the case of The Phluid Project, not only did the product meet the intentions, but exceeded them.
“Smith knew there needed to be a visual symbol of this ideal, so he created the first gender-
less mannequin,” the Phluid team told Aspirants. “The embrace of doing so has spanned shoppers and visual merchandisers alike, realizing and appreciating the freedom and expression that shapes our philosophy.”
If you visit the shop’s website, not only will you find sleek and fun designs suitable for anyone, but a tagline that reads: “100% gender-free.”
“In the future, we hope The Phluid Project will continue to challenge new boundaries with humanity, constantly evolving alongside society, demanding every human to live their authentic self.”
Read the full feature in Issue One: TRIUMPH.
Spread design by Ndemazea Fonkem