Fashion is More than Just Pretty People in Pretty Clothes

As we collectively readjust to the alternate universe we now find ourselves in, where Donald Trump is US president and the UK will soon no longer be part of the EU, it’s comforting to know that we’re not all going to just lie down and take it. What started with small protests has snowballed into some of the largest marches in history. The world is at its boiling point, and everyone has something to say about it.

Balenciaga are certainly feeling the Bern. Balenciaga Creative Director Demna Gvasalia showed blue jackets and t-shirts at the Balenciaga Paris runway show in an homage to the liberal Senator, using his 2016 campaign logo in their Spring 2017 Menswear collection.

For centuries fashion has reflected the political and economical state of the time, and while Rei Kawakubo may be the mother of the anti-fashion counterculture movement, the fashion world and designers themselves have always had an innate understanding of just how important their platform and audience really is. From the Supreme creators showing their support for Hillary Clinton to Demna Gvasalia channelling Bernie Sanders in his latest collection for Balenciaga, designers and brands convey feelings and messages of great importance through their collections and regularly utilise their voices to instigate change.

Supreme took an official stance in the recent US election, declaring their support for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton on Instagram. The image shows Supreme team affiliates Sage Elsesser in the foreground, with Jason Dill, Alex Olson and Tino Razo in the background. #imwithher #fucktrump

Sure, people may question what is a dress with “FUCK TRUMP” printed on it really going to do in the grand scheme of things? Or why does Vivienne Westwood keep banging on about Climate change when no one seems to be listening. Be patient my cynical friends.

The day before New York Fashion Week officially kicked off, R13 opened its show with a minidress emblazoned with the phrase “Fuck Trump.”

Sure it might be getting a tad overwhelming when every second article you scroll past is about how doomed the world is, but we are the visual generation! We have imagery hitting us in the face from the moment we wake up, keeping these issues at the forefront of our minds. I know it’s frustrating, but it is so important that we do not forget about it. What Kenzo and Ashish are tying to do is give you a reminder, a wake up call. The moment we start to normalise any of the madness going on in the world these days is when the bad guys win. We encourage you to file out in your numbers, and take to the streets for what we know is right, we have to fight. Even if it’s just retweeting something while you’re waiting for the bus, every little helps.

It is with these sentiments that I leave you with some of our favourite fashion messages that have graced the catwalks of late.

Some more subtle than others, but all with one crucial message: we will not be silenced.

words by Geri Dempsey

scroll down for more examples of political activism in fashion

Dame Vivienne Westwood has time and again used the runway (and the street) as a platform to voice her outspoken views on politics, tackling everything from restrictive gender norms, fracking and industrial farming to Scottish independence, WikiLeaks and Margaret Thatcher. – Viv’s Top 10 Political Movements:

Kenzo’s AW15 collection was about signs, symbolism and individuality – after all, one of the things that Kenzo fans love is the brand’s sense of humour and ability to craft an iconic motif. The stand out example was the “Love Kenzo Respect Others Irony” imitating, and finding humour in, the idea of clothing care labels.

For Ashish’s AW14 collection, much to the surprise of the audience, it was not an extravagant gown that took the catwalk finale. Instead, the final model wore a more modest version of the rest of the looks in a Gay Pride tribute. Black shorts and a sequined rainbow T-shirt with the logo Love Will Win received a rapturous applause.

“Stop Terrorising Our World.” The slogan, worn on the torso of a male model, opened a show by Walter Van Beirendonck in January 2015. The Belgian designer told reporters he had “to react” to the January 7-9 bloodshed by three gunmen who slaughtered staff at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper and killed four Jews in a supermarket hostage drama.

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