Political Fashion

         I’ve always been interested in fashion, and recently, also politics. When I was younger, I didn’t know that there was a connection between the two, but now I see how intertwined they can be. As I became more immersed and enamored with reading fashion magazines, articles and blogs I learned about the history of women’s attire and how politicized our clothing sometimes is. From the long journey women took to wear pants (see my last fashion and feminism post), through the flapper era when women started to reject the stuffy Victorian styles and began to welcome the looks of youth, frivolity, and sensuality, women have always had it harder when it comes to clothing.  (check out “Some Wore Bobby Sox: The Emergence of Teenage Girls’ Culture,” by Schrum, Kelly R.).  Even something as ordinary as going for a swim posed social problems for those who wanted to wear stylish and convenient bathing suits because society equated showing skin with being impure and immoral. In fact, the most common bathing suit style now – the bikini – wasn’t widely accepted for decades after it was first introduced in 1946 by French designer Louis Reard. (During the Victorian age, bathing dresses and pantaloons were shorter than regular dresses so women had to wear stockings when they swam in public. )

    The struggles of the past continue today. With the Trump administration’s blatant lack of respect for women, as well as the administration’s efforts to strip back women’s rights, it’s no surprise that major fashion houses took notice and responded by incorporating their own counter political statements into their clothing lines.  During the 2017 fashion weeks, political shirts made their runway debuts. Other runway looks included the “pink pussy hats” reproduced by Missoni, which were first made famous at the Women’s March of 2017, and white bandanas in the shows by Tommy Hilfiger, Thakoon, Prabal Gurung, Phillip Lim, Dior and Diane von Furstenberg. The Business of Fashion, a global fashion website started the #TiedTogether movement in support of unity and inclusiveness during fashion week. Models, designers and celebrity guests alike wore white bandanas throughout the week. “In fashion, visuals often speak louder than words. So, join together this Fashion Month to make a simple and singular visual statement: wear a white bandana as a sign to the world that you believe in the common bonds of humankind—regardless of race, sexuality, gender, or religion,” Imran Amed, founder and CEO of The Business of Fashion wrote. (https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/editors-letter/what-is-the-white-bandana-tiedtogether)

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    Notably, at the Christian Siriano ready to wear show for 2018/2019 he used his platform to endorse Cynthia Nixon. Siriano himself and another model wore a plain black T-shirt that read “Vote for Cynthia”. Similarly, to close his show, Jeremy Scott walked the runway wearing a white muscle tee shirt that said “Tell Your Senator NO on Kavanaugh”. And my personal favorite to walk the runway for the first time at New York Fashion Week: Di$count Universe which portrayed feminism and activism throughout their entire line. One colorful and sparkly dress featured the words “hysteria”, “irrational”, “emotional” and another garment had the saying “NOT FOR SALE” displayed across the models’ chest, a clear jab at the struggle women have over body ownership.  

    Not only did major fashion lines employ politics into their clothes, so too did Nordstrom’s Topshop with its “Feminist” tee, which made political clothing accessible to teens everywhere in any mall. I also like the “Time’s Up” tops which you can easily buy on Amazon. (check out Natalie Portman wearing hers!)

    With an increased emphasis of feminist and egalitarian slogans on the catwalk, I have felt influenced to do more research into the topics I feel passionately about as well as incorporate activism into my wardrobe. Now, many young girls, including me, love to wear slogan t-shirts to stand up for the issues we believe in passionately. My favorite is from Brandy Melville and the shirt states: “Raise girls and boys the same way” in red letters. Wearing this shirt makes me feel powerful, like I have a voice and I’m spreading a great message. I know I’m not making the kind of difference that voting and campaigning will, but incorporating my political views into how I dress now is something I can do every day and when I’m 18, you can bet I’ll be visiting the ballot box too!

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