My buddy, my dude, my guy, my pal: now that our teenage acquaintances have started referring to us near-exclusively in these terms (see also: “fren” as in “Hi fren”), we’re reasonably confident that the next wave of gender-role reforms is in good hands. To help, here’s copywriter Ruchika Parab from Mumbai, whose new brand envisioning “a gender-equal future” launched this week.
Say hello to Mixx, pronounced like “Mx,” the salutation that dispenses with the male-female binaries of “Mr” and “Ms”. Ruchika, together with designer Shruti Singhi and Berlin-based Janina Frahm, has been working on this for the last ten months: perhaps fittingly, she’s seen their initial ideas change and transform as they come into contact with other people’s notions of gender.
The Genderbread House
“What we hope is for it to be a platform about all kinds of gender equality,” Ruchika explains. “We want to collaborate with writers, artists, designers - people who work across different genres, and on different kinds of subjects,” to open up the conversation around our traditional social roles - and perhaps to open up those very roles in the process.
Say hello to Mixx, pronounced like “Mx,” the salutation that dispenses with the male-female binaries of “Mr” and “Ms”.
Mixx launches with its first item of clothing, a limited-edition straight-fit basic cotton t-shirt in adult and kid sizes. In white and turquoise green, it’s printed with pithy text to remind you that “boys equal girls” in more ways than just the “Rosie The Riveter” can-do way. Boys can like make-up, it points out, and girls may enjoy porn.
The shirt, deceptively simple, invites you to look more closely at it, and to have fun styling it. Early one May morning, the Mixx team and a few friends took to the streets of of Colaba to hang out and take pictures, wearing the shirt in different ways (bpb co-founder Kanika Parab - who is Ruchika’s sister - wore hers with a Dries van Noten skirt), going not just for anti-fit androgyny but also a sense of mischief and performativity.
Those images, taken by photographer Keegan Crasto, form the visual basis of Mixx’s first zine, which doubles up as a lookbook. Beautifully written and produced, it traces changes in the way people think (and perhaps should think) about gender equality in light, concise ways: quotes from neuroscience papers and an introduction to gender-neutral parenting (produced by a trained psychologist) share space with John Berger and a word puzzle featuring Simone de Beauvoir.
It may be just the thing to gift your friend (fren?) who doesn’t know what “hypermasculinity” means. But it’s also a gift for those we know who already approach gender restrictions with impatience and curiosity: a great way to tell someone they’re not alone.
Future zines will stay on-topic but vary their form and subjects, Ruchika tells us - if there are two ways to approach gender, after all, there are a million. To this end, she’s hoping to meet more collaborators interested in bending the rules: Mixx says it’ll work with “musicians, sculptors, chefs...stay-at-home dads, “stay-at-home dads that dance,” moms “plotting world domination” and others to contribute to their website and upcoming events and zines (the second issue will be out in a couple of months).
Look out too for Mixx’s next piece of merch, although Ruchika won’t say what it is yet. “It could be jewellery, it could be a toy, anything,” she hints mysteriously. We’re thinking of a gender-blender - they can call it a Mixxie?
Getting there: See Mixx’s website and shop for the t-shirt at www.bemixx.com. To collaborate with Mixx, write to email@example.com.
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