are-max-mara’s-giant-coats-genuinely-genderless?

Are Max Mara’s Giant Coats Genuinely Genderless?

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Max Mara makes “real clothes for real women,” according to creative director Ian Griffiths. Simple enough, but why stop there? SSENSE has long stocked the brand on its womenswear site but for Fall/Winter 2021, the retailer is also offering its Max Mara coat selection to men, demonstrating the inherent versatility of Mara’s enormous outerwear.

Though it garnered big headlines after US Speaker Nancy Pelosi wore an archival design, Max Mara has never really not been relevant for a certain type of shopper. Specifically, the Italian label’s garments are is prized by its well-heeled customers for their exquisite materials, finishing, and drape, with price tags to match.

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Cut from superior cashmere, camel wool, and silk, the louche layering pieces available on SSENSE are inherently lavish but as smugly cozy as a bathrobe, like wearing a warm hug that shields from the elements and prying eyes. Especially the plush Teddy Bear coat, which is almost always street-styled or modeled on women.

Typically gendered garment selections ought to be undermined, no argument there. Just a word of caution: though this particular example is pretty amiable, I’m personally wary to see womenswear brands reshaped for male consumers. Again, this particular instance is pretty hard to disagree with, but it’s an angle worth considering in light of the boy’s club mentality that often crops up in the industry.

It’s also odd to see garments that are likely cut to a woman-sized fit model being cast as genderless. To be fair, this was probably already considered as the Max Mara pieces on the mens’ site eschew shoulder seams for unrestrictive allowances and plenty more Mara is exclusively available on the womens’ side of the website.

A loosening of rigid gender boundaries is not only refreshing, it’s downright welcome. Normalizing previously gender-specific cues — like soft coats, pleated skirts, and grooming products — is a small but welcome step in the slow promenade towards widespread inclusivity and acceptance, if you can afford the garments in question.

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