This is a topic that has been flushed out many times over, but as I did some research, I came across truly fascinating stats on Daily Life:
- While male designers have taken home the Vogue Fashion Fund/CDFA Awards' Womenswear Award 13 out of 18 times, a woman has never won the Menswear Award.
- The most fast-rising under-30 designer success stories all belong to men.
- 70% of fashion graduates are female, yet the majority of them don't make it to the top. High street, fast fashion is comprised proportionally of more women than the luxury fashion sector.
So why is this? Obviously history of a male-orientated culture has driven this trend, with a lot of today's biggest, most historical labels having been started by men. Yet, there were still women who made a name for themselves (Coco Chanel, Madame Grès, Elsa Schiaparelli), and the numerous designer changeovers we've had over the years should have evened out the gender disparity by now. Could it be true that men know what we want better than we do? That we aspire to fashion ourselves into the image men expect of us? Or, as another argument goes, that because men tend to be more extravagant, whereas women tend to be more practical and functional, we just find ourselves more attracted to male designers?
Then the next obvious question is: why aren't women dominating menswear? Men and fashion have a rocky relationship. Fashion is something we realistically deal with everyday as we get dressed, but it just isn't "masculine" to care about the way you look. No matter how much we try to understand men, the way a girl thinks/wants a man should dress isn't always what a man is willing to wear. Women effortlessly step into androgyny, but that step is more of a leap for men. However, with male designers actually making menswear more feminine, creating society's new "metrosexual", it's now quite admirable to see a man who puts a little effort into how he looks (girls, rejoice with me). So whether it's menswear designed by men, or menswear designed by women, it really shouldn't matter moving forward.
Even as I sit here speculating the reason why men dominate the upper echelons of fashion, I'm already a step behind, because women are quickly rising to the top. There's digital-print queen Mary Katrantzou, wildly successful Miuccia Prada, celebrity favourites Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa, and unconventional talents Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, among many, many others. It won't be long before female designers even out the gender imbalance, and show the world that both men and women have equal chance of making it to the top
Image Source: Photo 1, 2, 3, 4. 5