July 30, 2019

Fashion has always been revolutionary. From the death of the corset to the latest trend, political t-shirts. It has always sent a message and it has had an imminent impact in our society. Most cis men I’ve heard from, say that fashion doesn’t hold a place in politics. I do have a way of proving them wrong. HISTORY. 


Those who say fashion isn’t political were awfully quiet when FLOTUS Melania Trump wore a jacket that said “I Really Don’t Care, Do You?” when on her way to one of the many "Camps" in where the United States holds immigrant families. I guess fashion is only political when it’s convenient. How could a woman that has all the means in the world to call a stylist and ask them what to wear, could be so careless? I don't believe that was an accident.

Yet, [fashion] has always been seen as vain in the eyes of the people who refuse to understand it. I don't blame them, ours is a complicated language. Even though we cannot change how the world thinks, we can still educate those who want to be educated. 

As much as I love to report about the latest trends, I do feel is my duty as a fashion writer to 
w r i t e about fashion’s ability to be used in protest; fashion’s way to let us say what we want to say and how to make ourselves be heard.

Here’s my favorite history lesson: FASHION IN TIMES OF CRISIS

Protest dressing: 

In 60’s, the rise of the Pro-Black political organization against Police Brutality, Black Panther (Party for Self-Defense), also brought back (as if it had ever left) the stance of Protest Dressing. 

This could be done by dressing in the colors of your organization or wearing accessories that resembled the fight you were up for. The Black Panther movement opted for wearing black berets and leather jackets. The women, such as African-American activist, Angela Davis, wore their afros in support of the fight for racial equality. One we are sadly, still fighting for today. 

Going back to the Black Panther Movement, did you notice something at Beyoncé’s Super Bowl50 Half-Time performance? A tribute to the movement, a wake-up call towards police brutality upon unarmed black men. After the death of Treyvon Martin, (and many before him) came a wave of artists, athletes, and powerful black people speaking up for the cause. Beyoncé’s tribute to the black panther was seen as disrespectful, yet, the fashion industry saw it as POWERFUL. An exercise of our 1st Amendment. Perfect timing, perfect tribute

Above: Activist Angela David / Artist Beyoncé

You either dress, or undress yourself to make a statement, 


“Sometimes it’s what you don’t wear that can make the greatest impact.” - Harriet Worsley

Also in the 60’s, Germaine Greer offered us a freedom women from that time thought impossible: going BRA-LESS. Part of today’s feminist movements come from women who dared do so back in our grandmother’s time.

 Germaine was one of them. She stated that bras are an unreasonable invention, and goddamn it was she right! You’re welcome, “Free the Nipple” movement. 

On that line of thought, Jean Paul Gaultier's AW18 finale was quite grande, talk about a statement from someone who's never been afraid to be vocal. For better or worse.

Above: Jean Paul Gaultier AW18 show finale, Germaine Greer, Holly Madison for PETA

Also, in more recent times, the vocalization of the fashion industry against wearing animal skin. 
The PETA association's form of protest dressing was better yet, protest UN-dressing for their campaign in 2007. Using supermodels in the nude with the phrase, “I would rather go NAKED than wear FUR” to make a social stance. Showing that, “sometimes it’s what you don’t wear that can make the greatest impact,” as stated by Harriet Worsley in 100 Ideas That Changed Fashion

The Most Mainstream Way of Protest Dressing:

If Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett thought me anything, is that T-Shirts go a long way, specially with activist messages such as theirs. Westwood’s “I am NOT a Terrorist” tee has made me cry more times than I’d like to admit (before ever listening to Brené Brown.) The same way that Hamnett’s environmental [and many other subjects such as the ‘Fashion Victim’ movement) activism has pushed people that cared about fashion and not the environment, to care more about what they are wearing and the pollution our industry is causing, and the people's lives this industry is responsable for. These are political issues, these are fashion designers speaking up about them.

Thinking back to Prabal Gurung’s F/W 2017, he hit us with an emotional ending. Feminist t-shirts, a political stance that was not ignored and very appreciated by fashion lovers from around the globe. This show’s finale was the beginning of the “The Future is Female” t-shirt trend. Personally, my favorite way to manifest my political-driven anger.

Katharine Hamnett, Bella Hadid at Prabal Gurung’s F/W 2017, Vivienne Westwood

In earlier times, fashion was taken from the French, you think they’d let the German’s slap them on the other cheek? NEGATIVE! They revolted: FASHION IN TIMES TEXTILE ABSENCE 

Capitalism aside, fashion has always been a thing of the French. So you could imagine that when the German invaded France in the 40’s during WWII, French women had to do something. Their pride was at stake. The trend we now know the “Minimalism” came from how the French women wear the best textiles and pair them with the perfect accessories, creating a simple yet chic look. A timeless gem.

During the Invasion of France, the Germans rationalized most of the resources, leaving the French with very little to wear. The women were only allowed to buy a shirt, a skirt and stockings. 

Even though I am one firm believer that us born after the 90’s have incredibly misused the word “minimalist” and its derivatives, French women knew just the way to do it while their textiles were being rationalized. They would sew their garments, to make them into other items as a way to protest. 

In the same way, my absolute favorite fact about this part of history, is the fact that these wonderful women would embroider the musical notes of patriotic songs [symbolizing victory] and hand painted French dishes [symbolizing food shortages] onto their garments and walked out the house, rationalized and all, while being fashionable and most importantly, not imprisoned  by the German army. 

Nobody can tell me that wasn’t the perfect way to demonstrate that fashion has caused a revolution before and will continue to for ages to come.

In my experience, the way I've come to use fashion as a way of protest is by boycotting. One person and asociation I am boycotting is San Juan Moda and Carlos Bermudez the biggest fashion association in Puerto Rico and its director. We can't have the people that lead it talk behind the back of the people that have made the platform what it is today. 

You can make a change in the industry, too.


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