Why 2017 Has Been The Biggest Year For Activist Fashion
Political and activist fashion has been one of the most significant trends in marketing and retail this year. From controversial slogan tees to riot hoodies and cruelty-free jumpsuits, the eco-friendly fashion phase has cemented itself on the catwalks of 2017.
So where are we seeing the biggest shifts from fast fashion to activist, and why? Could it be a result of political unrest, following issues such as Brexit, Trump’s US election and numerous terror attacks, or a more generational shift, with the rise of the millennial and Generation Z as the activist age bracket? With more un-settlement and injustice comes more activist fashion, making it a leading craze for fashion bloggers, designers and influencers across the board.
So who are the brands leading the charge?
From the high street, ASOS, Topshop and H&M are just some of the major brands making, albeit low-level, steps towards activist fashion, with their feminist t-shirt ranges being some of the most talked about of the season. Online retailer Boohoo has also introduced a collection of ‘feminist’ fashion pieces, with T-shirts, sweatshirts and pyjamas emblazoned with ‘girl power’ and ‘girls can do anything’ across the chest – contributing to the political trend in style.
From the catwalks of London, Paris and New York fashion weeks, activism and politics have been the forefront of controversy, with global fashion brand Calvin Klein making a significant statement in the US by introducing its models to the sound of ‘This Is Not America’ on the main stage. A highly political song, demonstrating against the presidency of Donald Trump, this overlap of fashion and national activism incited more campaigning, with a Mexican immigrant designer showcasing underwear with the slogan ‘no ban, no wall’ down the NY catwalk.
Political changes in fashion
Alongside the trends of activist designs in fashion, the world of fashion production has also changed considerably in 2017, with more and more retailers and suppliers introducing ‘cruelty-free’ labels for their clothing. Last month, it was announced that Gucci will be working entirely fur-free by 2018, reestablishing company values of social responsibility and environmentally friendly fashion, exciting many animal-loving millennial consumers of the brand. Gucci follows a long list of brands recently declared ‘cruelty-free’, with fashion houses such as Armani, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Westwood all halting their fur and leather productions.
Activist Fashion in Action
2017 has seen many injustices throughout societies all over the world, and those strong enough to campaign against them are frequently heralded by the public. Major fashion icons are now becoming entangled in this activist action, from small design houses to global production companies – but it all starts with one. Model and activist Halima Aden stands as an inspiration example of activist fashion, using her hijab as the most striking element of her style. A defence against the pressures and expectations of young women in society, and against the racial prejudices that have targeted the Muslim community this year, she is one of the most successful fashion models in the industry, and an activist leader to many.
Saffiyah Khan is another contender for iconic fashion activism, as the image of her standing up the leader of the EDL in Birmingham made headline news, and has elevated her directly into the world of political fashion. Since the photo was embraced by the internet, Saffiyah has been introduced to many big names in fashion, but has selected to work with Turkish designer, Dilara Findikoglu – a known activist and protester – for their closely aligning values.
Activist fashion has dominated catwalks and high streets in 2017, and with more unsettling times to come in 2018, it’s likely to make an even bigger statement in future trends. Politics and fashion have long overlapped, and we’re ready for the next generation of fashionable riot gear to come our way.