Neoteny - What's In A Name?

Neoteny - What's In A Name?

When we first introduce ourselves, most people don’t understand or recognize the word Neoteny. It usually peaks a conversation that I have over and over again. It goes something like this:

Me: I have a clothing line called Neoteny Apparel

Them: That’s cool, what’s the name?

Me: Neoteny

Them: Ne - ot - uh - knee, what does it mean?

Me: Going into an in-depth explanation of the dictionary meaning of the word, the reason why I chose to call my fashion label the word, and that I like how it sounds phonetically and looks when written. 

Them: I’m gonna follow you on your socials

Them: Never follows on socials because they can’t remember the name of our brand. 


This is the curse I am accustomed to for having chosen a unique and different name to represent my clothing. Nonetheless, I stick by it because it suits the vision that I am striving to achieve. 

I first heard the word Neoteny when I was in an art history class at university. For some reason, it piqued my interest because I hadn’t heard it before and didn’t know what it meant. (It’s funny, because I was attracted to the word for the same reasons that I am finding it difficult to navigate with.)

Neoteny via dictionary definition has a few different meanings. 

The first and most technical meaning is derived from the scientific realm - specifically zoology. It means the retention of juvenile features in an adult animal, or the sexual maturity of an animal while it's still in mainly larval state. Also referred to as juvenilization. (The axolotl is an example of this, and they're pretty freaking cool)

However, I believe it holds different meaning when someone uses its adjective form “neotenous”.

This is referring to neotenous features, (or facial neoteny) which again, has something to do with younger characteristics. Ex. Think about what makes babies so cute to us, there is a psychological aspect to why we think this way. If you have neotenous features, it doesn’t mean you look like a baby, but you could have held onto some of these characteristics more than others. This could be looking androgynous, or having wider set eyes for example. 

 So, how do I relate to the brand name Neoteny? I look at it as the clothing that I create and offer into this world, may help with the evolution of people’s perception of fashion. One day our principles becoming the norm - genderless design, high quality garments, and made with the Earth in mind.

The word neoteny also helps to define our methods, bringing it back to the ‘good old days’ when clothing was made locally, artistically, and people would invest in their wardrobe to help accentuate and express their life. 

 I hope that this has given you some insight into the background, pronunciation (mostly pronunciation), meaning and you learned something new today.

Until next time, 


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