New York City Home to World’s First Gender-Free Store

From the runway to retail, more and more clothing stores are starting to cater to consumers who don’t necessarily identify with a specific sex.

At “The Phluid Project,” a clothing store in New York City, there is no men’s or women’s section.  

Owner Rob Smith says it’s the world’s first gender-free store.  “We’re not age-specific, we’re not race-specific, we’re not gender-specific, we’re for everyone,” Smith says.

After spending decades working for major brands from Victoria’s Secret to Macy’s, he noticed a pattern: “Every time you go in and you start shopping and you start to look for something, you make a binary decision. That binary decision is, am I going to the men’s floor of the women’s floor? I’m going to go click male or female when I shop online.”

Smith wanted to change that by creating “The Phluid Project,” a gender-fluid clothing store.

Smith explains the name “Phluid” by saying “fluid” represents the ability to float back and forth without being stuck in one end of the spectrum and the “Ph” represents balance.

More young people identify with nontraditional gender labels, according to a 2018 study in the journal Pediatrics.

Gender-free clothing is also gaining momentum in the mainstream.  The trend is appearing in fashion magazines and on the runway.

Smith says “This is a generation that is, is really focused on purpose. They care about women’s rights, gay rights, racial rights. They care about the environment and they care deeply about equality. And they’re looking for brands that reflect their values.”

Customer Vasilisa Glauser says, “I want to spend money on good fashion that’s supporting people feeling okay in today’s world.”

Smith says he plans to spread his brand across the country and expand “The Phluid Project” online store to reach more people.