Joe Hildebrand: Questions over Bonds’ new ‘genderless’ clothing range
Amid a massive news week, in which the defamation trial of the century was sensationally settled and the Victorian government resumed imprisoning its own citizens, Aussie brand Bonds decided the time was ripe to launch a “genderless” clothing line – the ultimate answer to a question nobody asked.
No doubt the company has been inundated for years by trans and gender-fluid folk baffled as to which half-price singlet they should pick from the supermarket shelf, or perhaps felt violated by the toxic masculinity of Chesty Bond’s lantern jaw.
Strangely none of my trans friends ever mentioned it to me but to be fair at least two of them are pretty busy analysing national security and doing cabaret shows – not at the same time I should add.
So what compelling surge in demand was Bonds responding to?
Apparently this: “We offer an assortment of genderless apparel options across our range so our customers can wear it their way.
“We recognise that the future is ‘genderful’ and want to allow our customers to express their gender and identity in whichever way is most comfortable.”
This statement was accompanied by pictures of male and female models earnestly sporting the same jumpers, T-shirts, hoodies and tracksuit pants in the same “neutral” shades of grey, black, teal and dark green. Apparently gender-neutral people are unable to express themselves on the more vibrant edges of the colour spectrum.
To the untrained eye these items look exactly like any other jumpers, T-shirts, hoodies and tracksuit pants people put on every day without much fanfare but their magical property, according to the website Ladbible, is that these clothes “can be worn by anyone”.
This is in stark contrast to what happens when my wife tries to put on one of my T-shirts – it immediately self-immolates and a silent alarm notifies the nearest police station.
But of course I speak in jest. Indeed, as a strong believer in both freedom of expression and the laws of physics, my understanding has always been that any piece of clothing can be worn by anyone as long as they are smaller than the piece of clothing they are trying to fit into.
It is also passing strange that in other areas Bonds is at pains to be remarkably specific when dictating what appendages can go into what bits of material.
It has a range of sports socks in which each of the pair is marked left or right (no doubt as an aid to the novice user) and the exciting new “X-Temp Trunk” with “heat responsive technology” designed to combat “sweaty balls”.
Disturbingly, this range of underpants is marketed specifically to men so they can “get reacquainted with the cool and confident guy in you” – unless that last statement is directed towards women, in which case it would take on a rather different meaning.
We can but hope the company’s archaic assumption that only men have sweaty balls is something that will soon be challenged in time.
It may also be of interest to Bonds to learn that there is already a word for items that can be used or worn by anyone of any gender, and that is “unisex”. There are unisex bathrooms, unisex clothes and unisex bicycles – in fact I once rode the latter for 700km in the Great Victorian Bike Ride of 1987.
It was only later that I found out that my mum had lied to me and it was actually a girl’s bike, but you get my point. If only it had come in grey.
And so Bonds could have just released all these items of clothing and labelled them “unisex” and shoppers of casualwear the world over would have been spared the existential angst of having to reconcile a piece of cloth with whatever gender they identify as.
But of course then the company wouldn’t have had the chance to spruik its woke credentials, nor get acres of free publicity such as this column.
So why am I even writing about it? Well, here’s the answer to another question nobody asked.
The last time I recall the iconic Aussie Bonds brand making headlines for all the wrong reasons was back in 2009 when its parent company Pacific Brands sacked almost 2000 workers and sent their jobs to China. I recalled it because I wrote it.
Apparently a company that ditches Australian workers for cheap offshore labour can now curry favour with them simply by putting out a shapeless grey windcheater and calling it “genderless”.
If a company wants to cut jobs while cutting cotton that’s up to them, but they should at least have enough shame not to pretend they’re a bastion of progressive politics. And if hip modern lefties fall for such baubles they have once more proven their complete disdain for the working class.
And for any company or political party that wants the support of mainstream Australia there is just one simple rule they might wish to follow: If it ain’t woke, don’t fix it.
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