Earlier this year, young designer Harris Reed, known for creating genderfluid fashions and styling Harry Styles for Vogue, took over as creative director at Parisian brand Nina Ricci. He showed off his vision for the brand, including flouncy skirts and oversized suits that liberally mingled femininity and masculinity, at Paris Fashion Week in March.
As of Tuesday, the first of Reed’s Nina Ricci designs are now available for purchase; the autumn-winter 2023 collection is available to shop on Nina Ricci’s website and at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Saks is treating the launch with much fanfare, featuring an interview with Reed on its editorial site, The Edit, and hosting a live digital event with Reed and Saks svp and fashion director Roopal Patel on August 24.
Reed, who is American, said his debut collection was meant to evoke his idealized view of French fashion, a major inspiration for his work since his time studying at Central Saint Martins.
Reed’s genderfluid designs come at a time when the fashion industry is more comfortable blurring the lines between masculine and feminine clothing. Major brands like Levi’s have signaled their intention to keep growing their genderless offerings despite recent controversies like the Bud Light-Dylan Mulvaney saga. Chip Bergh, CEO of Levi’s, told Axios in May that there’s “definitely consumer appetite for that,” pointing to Levi’s internal data
Data from Klarna collected at the end of 2022 showed that more than 30% of American consumers had purchased at least one item of clothing outside of their traditional gender category, with that number being up to 50% for Gen-Z consumers. In an April 2023 survey of luxury shoppers by Glossy and Saks Fifth Avenue, 33% said that — in the prior 12 months, compared to the 12 months before that — they’d considered a brand’s social values more when evaluating purchases. And 9% said they’d increasingly sought out BIPOC, female and LGBTQ-owned brands.
The new Nina Ricci collection is luxury-tier, with the most expensive piece being around $1,800, and is sold in Saks’s women’s department. Saks is one of many major retailers that have started working with genderfluid designers and brands. Saks Off 5th launched a partnership with genderless fashion brand Phluid Project back in 2021, for example.
Adelle Renaud, a Vancouver-based designer and founder of the gender-neutral fashion brand Peau de Loup, said she’s seen more interest in genderfluid designs. Peau de Loup’s $100-$200 styles have been picked up by larger retailers including Urban Outfitters.
“I’ve been doing [genderfluid fashion] for 10 years,” Renaud said. “The customers are there, and they want this product. And since 2020, the big companies and retailers have become more open to it, as well.”
Nina Ricci’s parent company, Puig, is hoping to capitalize on that phenomenon with Reed. He’s the fifth creative director the brand has had in 15 years. Puig has been diversifying from its core business of fragrance and increasing its investment in fashion, acquiring Dries van Noten in 2018 and relaunching Jean Paul Gaultier in 2022. Its revenue grew by 40% year-over-year to nearly $4 billion last year, driven primarily by fashion and fragrance. Those two categories make up three-quarters of Puig’s revenue, with skin care, makeup and cosmetics making up the rest.