photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

As someone who's shopped 'til I've dropped in many stores, I was immediately intrigued when I heard about The Phluid Project. It’s a store/event space for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies, meaning that all those outdated gender norms you grew up with while shopping are thrown out the window. 

So what exactly does a gender-free store look like? Well, I swung by the New York City space to get a sense of what shopping looks like when gender norms are erased. Here's how I felt about The Phluid Project:

Before you even enter, the message is clear.

phluid store nyc
photo: Mary Anderson/ Revelist

Plenty of people stared at the windows and pointed at the "Gender-Free" message, admiring the colorful lettering across the windows. Inside, it gets even better: In addition to a slew of Instagram-ready items up to $300, the shop also houses an event space.

“We not only encourage people to shop without binary boundaries, but also build connection throughout our community space, sharing ideas and spreading knowledge through guest speakers and educational lectures,” founder Rob Smith said on The Phluid Project's website. 

Of course, as someone who is an ally rather than a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I realized I wasn't the target demographic for the store. 

phluid store
photo: Mary Anderson/ Revelist

Members of the LGBTQ+ community absolutely need more safe spaces, especially in retail. So I do realize that my shopping experience does not ultimately serve as a voice for those within the community.

Once inside, I noted Phluid's layout differed from most stores in a refreshing way. 

phluid store inside
photo: Mary Anderson/ Revelist

Since the clothes weren't separated by gender, the entire shopping floor was my oyster. No longer did I feel like I was trespassing if I went over to the men's section — because it didn't exist!

The music inside the store was wisely curated, too, featuring artists such as Lady Gaga and Grimes.

phluid ceiling
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

It made it impossible not to dance inside the dressing rooms! 

The store had a variety of sunglasses to choose from, including mirrored aviators. 

phluid sunglasses
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

Of course I had to try on a pair. 

sunglasses phluid
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

The space even has an inclusive beauty station! 

beauty phluid
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

For those who need caffeine when they shop (like myself), there's a sizable coffee shop. 

phluid coffee shop
photo: Mary Anderson/ Revelist

Honestly, I was surprised by the size of the coffee/bar area. It was HUGE. 

The store includes a stadium seating area, which could be useful for relaxing while you shop. 

phluid seats
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

I was told that the artist R.J. Raizk even sketched all the work BY HAND.

When it came to clothes, there was a wide range of items. These "Free Hugs" T-shirts were set out right by latex overalls.

free hugs T-shirt
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

In addition to Phluid's own brand, which mostly offers graphic T-shirts and matching sweatpants, the store also features a range of items by other brands such as denim jackets by Levi's, latex pants by Meat, and mesh outfits by Gypsy Sport. 

The first look I tried on was a head-to-toe Phluid outfit, and it was COMFY. 

phluid red
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

*Side note: The lighting was good in the dressing rooms, but not so much for pictures, so bear with me! 

The $35 shirt was a size 1 (or about a small) while the $89 pants were a size 3 (or about a large). Since Phluid has its own sizing system, I was concerned that I would have to go back and forth choosing pant sizes, but once I found that the size 3 was comfortable, I was set. 

According to its website, a size 2 is close to a medium. 

"Please note that our sizing is a work in progress, as we aim to create clothing for all body types," the website said. "We are currently developing and adding additional sizes, for more diverse and inclusive options."

When I spoke to a store associate via phone, they added that the size chart may change so that a size 1 is closer to a medium, since Phluid is planning on rolling out more sizes in the summer. Yay!

Meanwhile, the tapered joggers felt like I was walking through clouds. 

>>Click to buy

Available up to a size 4. 

Tapered jogger ($89, The Phluid Project

The back of the shirt had a pretty cute message — but don't touch me. 

phluid project red shirt back
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

As the proud owner of several crop tops, I kind of digged this in-between length T-shirt. 

>>Click to buy

Available up to a size 4. 

Phluid crop ($35, The Phluid Project

I tried the joggers (size 3) in grey, and added the T-shirt (size 1). It was soft AND advocated for LGBTQ+ rights. What else could you want from a shirt? 

I could definitely see myself pairing this with high-waisted jeans and boots. 

>>Click to buy

Phluid Crop ($35, The Phluid Project

I threw on a denim Phluid shirt ($85, The Phluid Project) in a size 2 to up my street-style game. 

denim shirt
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

I was VERY impressed at how soft this fabric was! It honestly felt more like a T-shirt, even though it was still structured. At $85, it was a little pricey, but you could definitely pair it with multiple outfits. 

I also liked the hardware on the denim shirt! 

denim shirt
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

The details matter, people. 

The next look I tried on included latex pants, and I've never STRUGGLED THIS MUCH BEFORE IN MY LIFE. 

latex pants
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

OK, I will say that the T-shirt in a size S/M ($45), which was by Voice of Insiders, was easy to put on. But after that? I faced an uphill battle. 

The pants (size M) were by latex brand MEAT, and they were basically bow-tied torture pants. 

latex black pants
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

After going from Phluid's magical cloud pants, putting on these latex pants was painful. The pants ($304, Meat) looked baggy, so it should've be easy to put on, right? WRONG. Honestly, the pair was BEAUTIFULLY made, but I will say that unless you have some baby oil on hand, avoid these pants. I'm still shook. 

Aesthetically, it's great to see Phluid incorporating details like bows on latex pants, demonstrating that its customers don't have to play by society's rules in regards to gender norms. 

The next look I tried was a Phluid $35 T-shirt in a size 0 and cropped sweatpants in a size 2. 

>>Click to buy

Available up to a size 4. 

Cropped wide leg ($79, The Phluid Project) 

Black is basically the brightest color I wear (no joke), so wearing an all-white outfit was definitely a change. I'm not sure if I'd spend $79 for these cropped sweatpants, but they were soft! I sized down in the capris since they were roomier.

"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken," this Phluid T-shirt read. 

phluid white shirt
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

I really liked the design of this T-shirt, and I could definitely see myself paying $35 for it! 

When I saw the world's most distressed denim jacket in a size medium ($128, Levi's), I HAD to try it on. 

denim jacket
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

This store REALLY challenges you to get out of your comfort zone. Do I think that a jacket covered in holes will keep me warm in these frigid New York City temperatures? No, but it will keep me stylish, and that's what is important. 

The next look I tried on was a skort (yes, a SKORT), a matching mesh top, and a red Phluid tank top. 

gypsy sport red
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

I've longed for skorts to be made for adults, so I was thrilled to find this one by Gypsy Sport ($198, Gypsy Sport) in a size medium. It was mesh underneath, so it's not super functional, but it was definitely 100% fashion. Plus, I could see myself layering the mesh top ($138, Gypsy Sport) on other outfits, though!

Underneath I layered a red "Optimist" tank top in a size 2 to tie it all together. 

>>Click to buy

Available up to a size 4. 

Optimist tank top ($35, The Phluid Project

The final outfit I tried on was a recreation of a look I saw on The Phluid Project's Instagram, since I LOVED the pink lightweight jacket. 

>>Click to buy

Available up to a size 4. 

Coach coat ($98, The Phluid Project

I thought the coat would look too big on me, but actually, the size 1 fit pretty well! I threw on the beanie too ($24, The Phluid Project) for good measure. 

I added this short-sleeved sweatshirt in a size 2 ($59, The Phluid Project).

phluid project pink sweatshirt
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

Again, it had the softness of the sweatpants, but without all the bulk of a sweatshirt. I was pleased! I paired it with pants that were the same tapered joggers, but in black. 

Final thoughts: From the very helpful employees to the bold colors to the excellent music selection, The Phluid Project is definitely starting out strong. 

phluid project fashion
photo: Mary Anderson/Revelist

By offering items in a variety of fabrics, textures, and color schemes, The Phluid Project makes it clear that regardless of your gender identity, you have the right to wear what you want. And even though I was somewhat intimidated by the size chart, once I figured it out, it was simple and easy to use. Plus, the store associates were VERY helpful and gladly explained the size chart to me, and were eager to answer any questions I had.

The only concern I had was with the price. Although the Phluid sweatpants were softer than run-of-the-mill items, they seemed pricier than sweatpants you'd normally find at a fast-fashion store.

However, most importantly, as someone who is an ally but not a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I realize that this store was not created for me. It was created for those in the community who need a space to feel accepted and experiment with their clothing choices without the challenges they might face at other stores. Hopefully, it'll open more locations throughout the country, so everyone can get The Phluid Project experience! 

Visit The Phluid Project online or check out the store at 684 Broadway NY NY 10012!

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