It’s official, “fashion and politics can no longer be mutually exclusive,” as Prabal Gurung declared backstage at his NYFW show. As someone who has always identified as a feminist and leftist, it’s refreshing to see this transformation in the fashion industry, which has long been an outlet for escaping reality. I’m guilty of it, too; I’ve never posted about politics on my blog. But lately politics feel deeply personal, and it only feels right to address matters like Islamophobia, anti-immigration, sexism, homophobia, and racism. That sentiment was echoed in the shows this season at New York Fashion Week with statements of inclusivity, love, and empowerment. Prabal believes that now more than ever, fashion “has a responsibility to be a platform for change, to be a conversation starter.” Seeing as fashion has some of the most powerful influencers, I agree (after all, fashion helped make feminism more widely accepted by the mainstream). I just hope these political statements won’t die down like a trend. Here are some of my favorite political statements from NYFW; you can see more on my Pinterest page.
One of my favorite designers, Mara Hoffman, opened her show with the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington – Linda Sarsour, Tamika Malloy,Carmen Perez, and Bob Bland – reading powerful statement quotes Angela Davis, Audre Lorde and Maya Angelou as models performed on the runway wearing organic, sustainable clothing. The show displayed the beautiful intersection of fashion, activism and politics.
Black and white tees with political slogans dominated the finale of the Prabal Gurung show addressing feminism, the immigration ban, and political empowerment. These tees certainly encourage people to be more expressive about their political views. I want the Stay Woke tee.
Alice + Olivia
While the Alice + Olivia collection wasn’t political, we did see one inspirational tee that captured the political zeitgeist.
Designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne of Public School cleverly appropriated Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan to reveal a liberal message – “Make America New York.” Chow explains to Business of Fashion, “We wish the rest of the States were like New York from an inclusivity standpoint, from a diversity standpoint, from an action standpoint.” And though I love the messaging, I do wish the design looked more distinct from Trump’s brand since it’s hard to distinguish from afar.
Jonathan Simkhai expressed his feminist views as he closed his NYFW show.