The world is political. There is no denying that. Even those who profess to not have any interest at all in politics are ultimately affected by it. It bleeds into all aspects of society – health, industry, media, education, arts – at some point or another, it can get political.
Surely enough, fashion is a major part of our daily life, whether we realize it or not. And it is something that has been incorporated into politics time and again. There are many tools that individuals can use to express their political leanings, and fashion is one of those. It is probably the tool that everybody already has at hand, and is easily adaptable for any purpose.
Quite recently, the call for accountability and sustainability has soared in the fashion industry, and big companies as well as independent designers had to be quick to form a response to this political ordeal. Nearly every fast fashion brand now showcases an eco-friendly or ethically produced line. Whether or not the processes and credentials behind such brand offshoots are transparent and reliable enough, they still manage to assuage most concerns.
There have also been notable periods in recent decades wherein the fashion industry has been used as a sort of avenue for making political statements. A notable example is when several high-profile models chose to take a stand against wearing fur in PETA’s iconic 1994 campaign.
More recently, the #TiedTogether movement was started. It is described as “a response to the silence from the fashion industry in the face of growing uncertainty and a dangerous narrative peddling division on both sides of the Atlantic.” Its white bandana symbol might have caught your attention from several runway shows.
It isn’t just through campaigns and movements that fashion manages to make its mark when it comes to politics. It is also one of the most distinguishable attributes that political figures possess in the public sphere. Princess Diana is just as remembered for her style, as she is for her grace in the face of personal tribulations. She was a trailblazer when it comes to her fashion choices, considering her very prominent position in British royalty.
Fashion is often utilized by current political figures to convey a message. Just recently, United States Vice President-elect Kamala Harris donned a fully white outfit for her first celebratory speech. The colour white has famously been the symbol of the suffragette movement, and this emphasizes the massive triumph of the United States electing its first woman Vice President (and also the first Asian-Jamaican American!).
Politics and fashion have always been intertwined, and it isn’t just in recent decades that political figures have become style influencers in their own right. Quite frankly, the advent of more successful women in politics is something to be celebrated, and if fashion is something that they feel to be an expressive way to shed some light on important causes, or simply to enjoy their freedom in being well-dressed women, then I say carry on! The world has progressed a bit from being exclusively led by old men in shapeless suits, and it’s about time for fashionable and intelligent women in power to take center stage.
By Sophie Jocson