Phluid, which opened March 1 in New York City's Noho neighborhood, is a gender-neutral retail store and hang-out. "Our store is mutli-faceted, part retail, part community space, part experiential and completely gender-free," the company said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. "We will serve as a hub for the community, creating a space to hang out, have fun and share collective ideas."
Price points range from $35 to $500, and merchandise includes apparel, footwear, accessories, cosmetics and gifts. The store features items from "unique goal brands new and emerging designers," and a coffee and juice bar, the company said.
Founder Rob Smith worked in retail for decades, including at Macy's and Victoria's Secret, according to Reuters. Market research has shown that younger consumers are increasingly likely to reject binary notions of gender, he also said in that report.
The Phluid Project is emerging just as Interview magazine — the publication founded by Andy Warhol who decades ago tore down traditional definitions of gender through a host of art and culture projects, including fashion — is folding amid controversy and bankruptcy.
Warhol and the musicians, personalities, and the gender-bending images and styles he promoted, greatly influenced mainstream fashion and advertising, although his circle retained a counter-culture edge. His influence is still reverberating — plenty of brands have turned to androgynous models, and high-fashion brands, including designers and retailers, are increasingly presenting designs and campaigns that cross or ignore gender lines.
Retailers are also taking gender-neutral principles into children's retail, as seen by the unisex kids line Abercrombie & Fitch launched in January, along with Target's unisex Pillowfort decor line. Phluid seems intent on continuing to break down gender-based boundaries, and in fact move away from the notion of gender-free as exotic.
"We are not just a store, we are a movement committed to challenging the ethos of the traditions of the past that inhibit freedom and self-expression," the company said in its email. "Our world is not defined by binaries and neither are we. The rising voice of the youth rejects gender binaries and simply wants to wear clothing that makes them feel good."