Political Statements Are the Hottest Things at New York Fashion Week

Political Statements Are the Hottest Things at New York Fashion Week
By Alexandra Mondalek

Everyone from emerging designers to industry stalwarts has participated in their own versions of political activism, featuring slogan T-shirts on runways and providing Planned Parenthood support pins to showgoers. And much of the commentary has come in the form of strong rebukes against President Trump, both directly and indirectly.

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Designer Katharine Hamnett said, “Slogans work on so many different levels; they’re almost subliminal. They’re also a way of people aligning themselves to a cause. They’re tribal. Wearing one is like branding yourself.”

In 2005, Vivienne Westwood — one of the most notable activist designers — sold shirts that read, “I am not a terrorist, please don’t arrest me” to protest anti-terror legislation in the U.K.; 10 years later, Walter Van Beirendonck branded his fall/winter 2015 collection with the words “stop terrorizing our world,” in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. In September, Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri designed “We should all be feminists” white tees.

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At New York Fashion Week, clothing continues to be an outlet for political expression, seemingly without respite from the onslaught of all Trump all the time. Designers are leaning heavily into themes of feminism, equality, and patriotism.

For all of the political posturing, T-shirts don’t equate to tangible change. Hamnett admits that people who wear their politics on their sleeve have “the feeling that they have done something when they haven’t.”

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