Runway Radar: Al Fearnley's non-binary XENO VELLUM evades all labels

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      By Natasha Gruetz

      Rather than classifying clothing as menswear or womenswear, Al Fearnley’s collection showcases non-binary clothing for the existentialist consumer. The garments are made for those who wish to break from the current fashion paradigm and embrace an autonomous existence—all while expressing their freedom of choice and individuality through dystopian themes.

      Not a small task, but Fearnley is up to the job.

      XENO VELLUM will be unveiled at 2017 The Show presented by Tamoda Apparel Inc., on April 5 and 6 at the Imperial (319 Main Street). Twenty-seven other lines by Kwantlen Polytechnic University Fashion Design and Technology students will also be showcased.

      For event details, visit or follow @wilsondesignkpu on Instagram.

      Natasha Gruetz: Describe your collection.

      Al Fearnley: XENO VELLUM is a non-binary collection for individuals who wish to live a more autonomous lifestyle. Layering is a key focus for the line: it gives our customers multiple ways to have comfort both physically and emotionally.

      This reflects our complex, rich lives that are not just some trend or one-sided: we are multifaceted and we want autonomy. As a group, we are not always recognized by our identities, so providing these individuals with a safe space is a key part of the brand.

      NG: Who or what was the inspiration behind your line?

      AF: Through my own personal experiences, as well as those of my friends, I noticed a lack of clothing in the market place that was genderless or non-binary. It’s difficult not to get pigeonholed into a gender while out shopping, so I wanted to provide a collection for people who go through the same daily stresses and more.

      NG: Walk me through your creative process.

      AF: Comfort is key—not only in fit and fabric, but also in how it is presented. Being gender-neutral is a vital part of these individuals' identities, so taking that into consideration while designing each piece is crucial. Many body shapes are coming into play here and they all need to be considered.

      NG: What have you learned at KPU?

      AF: My biggest take away is that design is everywhere and we use it every day. It’s important to design responsibly and not just frivolously. We must take into account what the end use will be for the customer. By having a better understanding of that we can then deliver something that is functional and user-friendly.

      NG: What aspect of design are you most passionate about?

      AF: I’m greatly inspired by innovations and advancements in technology. I always strive to incorporate something that hasn’t yet been seen, be it a custom patterned fabric or soft circuits and EL wires. I feel that it’s important to experiment and push boundaries, and wearable tech is doing just that.

      Natasha Gruetz is a final-year fashion design and technology student at KPU’s Wilson School of Design.