Fashion gets political

The most eminent trend to hit the runways this season is the recent uproar of designers speaking out against the Trump administration and his recent actions regarding the ban on refugees, his opposition to planned parenthood, the lack of diversity within his cabinets and countless others.

Fall Ready-to-Wear Fashion Week was definitely one for the books; as many influential brands have shifted their apolitical stance for the first time and used their platform to share what they feel is crucial. This is a big deal because, while this definitely isn’t the first time a brand has used their collection as a political statement, it’s never been this widely used and by such ground breaking brands like Tom Ford, Michael Kors and Versace, just to name a few.

This is not to say fashion and politics have never worked hand-in-hand, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Unconsciously, our style has always been a direct reflection of whatever is going on in the world. For example; the rising hemlines after the 19th amendment, the more neutral tones during World War I, and of course the flashy styles of the 1970’s reflecting the social movements of the time. But, these are trends that people adapted and what we’re seeing now are monumental international brands that are risking some of their already-shrinking-clientele to parade what matters to them in front of the world.

One of the biggest things that the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) did was hand out Planned Parenthood buttons to the designers and people attending the show. This turned out to be a pretty big hit and many designers wore their pin on stage. This allowed the designer to show their support in a more oblivious way, especially if their collection was more interpretive.

It seems that the most popular way that designers showed their feeling about the election were with phrases and symbols. Some brands, like Talbot Runhof, chose powerful and direct phrases like, “She got more votes,” and Each x Others’ “No walls between us.” While other brands choose uplifting words like the Alice + Olivia graphic tee’s reading, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and Versace’s subtle use of the words,  “Unity,” “Equality” and “Love.” However, the king of statement graphic tees’ this season was Prabal Gurung; he had a different phrase for each of his models to wear during the finale. Bella Hadid lead the pack with a shirt that said “The future is female” and Prabal Gurung himself came out with a shirt reading, “This is what a feminist looks like.”

Perhaps the most haunting show was done by the amazing designer Pyer Moss, who is well known for his honest and blunt designs regarding mental illness, addiction and his dissatisfaction with the wealthy one percent. It’s common for Moss to include many words or graphics in his garments that really help the audience understand his vision. But in his most recent collection, there was only one phrase and it was the first piece to come out reading, “Nothing to say.” For a designer like Moss that is an extremely powerful phrase, the disappointment and frustration was evident.

The statement many designers made for their runway show was to incorporate all different types of models. It’s no secret that its harder for plus size models, models of different ethnicities, disabled models, etc. to find work in runway. The fashion industry is notorious for not hiring “real” models and that’s a huge problem-- representation matters. But this year, many designers during fashion week, including Christian Siriano, Tome, J. Crew, Mara Hoffman and Michael Kors, encompassed plus size models, older models, models of color, models that wear hijabs and even disabled models into their show.

In regards to political statements made at Fall Ready-to-Wear, it’d be a crime not to mention Public School; and the notably outspoken brand did not disappoint. This show was a political madhouse from the way the venue was designed right down the accessories. It was purposely put in close quarters with a narrow runway in hopes of forcing people to communicate with each other and the background read, “Make America Great Again. Make America New York Again.” Most talked about were the staple red baseball hats Donald trump used during his campaign that the designer then mocked with the phrase “Make America New York Again,” meaning that the designers want the rest of the country to have the same inclusivity that New York has. The show also included phrases like, “Feminist AF” and the ironic, “We Need Leaders.” To get their message across and to set the mood even futher, they even played a version of “This Land is your Land” during the show

Poltical statements regarding our election were not just made in the United States but incorporated into fashion weeks all over the globe, including but not limited to Emelie Jenrell in her Fall Stockholm collection, WeAnnaBe in her Fall Kiev collection and hopefully many more to come.