As the recent Paris Fashion Week shows made evident, genderless fashion is having a moment. But for many people, it’s still not entirely clear what that moment means or what its significance is. While society’s relationship with gender is on the cusp of radical change, the fashion industry and some style-adjacent celebrities can certainly catalyze discussion.
Noted forgoer of binary codes Jaden Smith was recently spotted in an outfit from Nicolas Ghesquière’s Louis Vuitton SS19 womenswear collection. The look, which we were very much into, underpins how genderless fashion doesn’t have to be as on the nose as Young Thug wearing an Alessandro Trincone-designed ruffled dress on the cover of his Jeffery mixtape. It can be as simple as wearing a womenswear suit to undermine the rigid distinctions between menswear and womenswear — and show how good it looks, too.
L’INSANE is a new concept store in Paris that caters to those seeking more elastic categorizations when picking up designer threads, stocking some of the hottest brands right now, including New York label Telfar and jewelry designer Alan Crocetti. We spoke to L’INSANE founder Lyne Zein, who is Syrian but grew up in Athens, Greece, about why she felt now was the right time to open the store and what implications a genderless fashion boutique has for the rest of the world.
Describe when and why you opened L’INSANE? What’s the objective?
The L’INSANE concept was developed in 2017 while in my hometown wondering how people can still be so close-minded while approaching 2020. The physical space and website opened January 19, 2019.
The purpose of the creative space and ideology of L’INSANE is to let people feel free and safe to express themselves creatively, no matter their background, gender identity, sexuality, etc. Me, my team, and many people I know come from countries where freedom of expression and uniqueness are often misjudged and seen as weird in the worst way possible.
L’INSANE wants to create the feeling of belonging and hopefully one day be able to make a change for other kids and people that cannot feel free to express themselves the way they want to. L’INSANE aims to inspire people to discover their identity and who they really are without any judgments.
It goes beyond the concept of plain luxury, which may feel uncomfortable for some people. At L’INSANE, if you are not here to shop, you are here to discover our monthly art installations or just hang out with us and talk about different subjects such as music, art, identity, love, confusion.
What’s your background?
I studied business at The American University of Paris and did my luxury and fashion brand management masters at Istituto Marangoni Paris. After that, I worked for a year as a commercial intern with an emerging brand that grew very fast — I’m not allowed to share the name. After the internship, I briefly continued selling at their showroom. After that, I felt it was the right moment to open L’INSANE.
Which brands do you stock and what do you consider when choosing to carry a new designer? What pieces are selling well right now?
We stock many different brands such as 032C apparel, Adam Selman Sport, Andy Wolf, Alan Crocetti, Barragán, both, Cottweiler, Dilara Findikoglu, Dust Capsule, Eckhaus Latta, Helmut Lang, Hyein Seo, Ludovic de Saint-Sernin, Marco Panconesi, Mugler by Casey Cadwallader, Namilia, Palomo Spain, Rombaut, Telfar, Vaquera NYC, Xander Zhou, and more to come.
We do the buying with my friend and colleague Laura Darmon and we generally do very intensive research about the brands we want to pick up. We are also really happy to pick up designers that are, like us, gender-fluid advocates. Moreover, we always check the growth potential of the brand and generally focus on what makes them stand out in terms of design, branding, and ideology. You can always tell the potential of a brand based on how they are able to create a beautiful, loyal following.
The pieces that work best in-store are definitely the more daring pieces, and we realized that quite quickly. Of course, some people go for the commercial branded pieces, but it’s always our special pieces that people are quickly drawn to.
Which labels are doing the most interesting things regarding gender-neutral fashion?
I think all of the brands and designers we carry are doing very interesting things blurring gender lines. I particularly love the casting of many of our brands, since they’re trying to naturally cast a wide range of people. I also loved how Xander Zhou’s SS20 men’s collection only had skirts. Not even one pair of trousers. I don’t think this would have been commercially approved a few years back. It’s nice to see how the world is advancing.
Why is it important for fashion to prompt discussion about gender and sexuality?
I think it’s very important because we are in a time where fashion needs to finally evolve. Gender and sexuality shouldn’t remain an “emerging” subject, but just normal and naturally seen. The best way to start is the way we express ourselves, which for many is through fashion and clothes. We are at a time where all clothing categories should belong to all gender categories without even questioning it.
Check out L’INSANE’s website right here.