Fashion embraces politics


Designers from all over debuted fashion lines bearing political statements of strength and unity.

By Cris Rojo

DeKALB — In a time of rising feminism and uproar about uncompromising figures in office, the fashion world is seeing a collision with the world of politics as designers unleash their political statements on the runway.

Leave it to Moschino’s creative director, Jeremy Scott, to make a political statement on the runway about the rise of violence in the United States. The label used military-influenced jackets and combat boots to make consumers appear as soldiers in the streets against the issues of modern day society at New York Fashion Week.

New York based designer Prabal Gurung took to Berlin Fashion Week to present his Resort 2018 collection in a more political lens as well. Gurung sent his models down the runway for their final walk in feminist graphic tees with slogans such as “Nevertheless, she persisted” and “The future is female.”

These two powerhouse examples are just the start of fashion pushing boundaries and confronting social issues. Through doing so, consumers are empowered by the fabrics draped across their bodies.

“Fashion houses inserting their politics is nothing new as, historically, they are known for expressing their views in their artistic creations,” fashion merchandising professor Mary Ann Lorenz said. “For example, Vivienne Westwood, a ’70s icon for expressing political views, was highly controversial in her expression down the runway. What the industry quickly realized is that this was something needed, and it gives each house an opportunity to artistically make a statement.”

Not only are high-end fashion houses making their shows an ode to politics, but less publicized brands such as Public School are chiming in as well. In their fall 2017 show, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, the brand’s designers, showcased models in red caps which read “Make America New York” along with various athletic pieces reading “We need leaders.”

An allusion to the recent election of President Donald Trump, these looks engaged fashion consumers in a new way. Forcing shoppers to consider the message they want to send out with what they wear, fashion has stepped once more into the realm of political push.

The recent rise of political statements have also inspired a new kind of trend referred to as statement streetwear. Through scarves, t-shirts and any article of clothing imaginable, retailers are striving for consumers to take on the valiant fashion.

In fast fashion and luxury brands, both menswear and womenswear have been carrying bold red and orange hues along with the color green, which manifests the essence of being a warrior against the surrounding environment in which consumers walk.

Sprawled across the many ensembles of clothing are chaotic graphics and striking messages to help consumers make their voices heard without actually requiring them to speak.

“Our culture is a melting pot, [and] there’s a lot of different people that live here, [and this is] artistic, and it’s self expression,” freshman fashion merchandising major Domonique Sella said. “It’s no longer about posters and rallies; we can express ourselves through our clothing now. It’s a way to show that you’re proud of your culture.”

Edward Buchanan, creative director of luxury knitwear brand Sansovino 6, produced winter statement scarves for a collection titled #CheckYourNeck. The scarves in the collection display messages on immigration, police brutality and freedom through heavy tones of army green, frigid tones of blue and heated pops of orange. The knitwear features inscription messages such as “We are all immigrants.”

Not only are luxury fashion houses making it easy for consumers to express themselves but so are fast fashion stores. Online British retailer ASOS is offering a wide range of expressive shirts. The various shirts have messages such as “Yes, I am a feminist” and “I don’t dress for boys.”

On the other end of the spectrum is the Help Refugees Choose Love line, which contrasts the sharp messages of others. The organization’s soft cotton crew neck shirt is all black with a slogan print which reads “Choose Love.” A collaboration between British fashion designer and activist Katharine Hamnett and Help Refugees, a United Kingdom humanitarian aid organization which assists those displaced by war, gave 100% of the sales from this shirt to Help Refugees to raise funds and awareness.

“I think it’s amazing that the fashion industry is embracing trends of resistance,” Chance program counselor Deyci Ramirez said. “I think fashion has always been a sense of expression and has always validated people. People may not always agree, but the reality is that [fashion] is a sense of liberation.”