As an art form, fashion is often derided as a superficial and unimportant entity. After all, most of what is produced are only enjoyed by the very wealthy, and clothing items that earn the distinctive title of ‘classics’ are few and far between. Besides that, art has always been used as a platform for human expression, from the social to the religious and the political. When does fashion ever do that?
A Body Statement
However, many observers argue that fashion does that, or has the capacity to do this, more than any other art form. A political statement delivered in a painting will only be seen by the people who choose to visit the gallery where it is shown, whereas fashion statements are seen by everyone the wearer passes by.
While the word ‘statement’ in fashion usually refers to a bold and individual piece, the statement t-shirt can be seen as literally that: a t-shirt featuring a political statement. When Katharine Hammett visited Margaret Thatcher wearing one of her own designs, she used the opportunity to express a political opinion. Her t-shirt emblazoned with “58% Don’t Want Pershing” was the result of a public survey about the nuclear weapons which Mrs. Thatcher supported. Talk about discussing the elephant in the room!
However, other attempts at political t-shirts, like the ones featured at https://www.ejmenswear.com, haven’t always been so clearly received. For example, Maria Grazia Chiuri, the name behind Dior men’s designer clothes, brought out a t-shirt stating “We should all be feminists”. Many critics accused the designer of virtue signaling or simply trying to be political. But she fought back, saying that as the first female creative director at Dior after 70 years, she had a right to the statement.
But nowhere is fashion’s political power more evident than when it makes a strong statement and influences the big fashion houses. In 1994 Naomi, Cindy and Christy declared that they would “rather go naked than wear fur”.
This polarized fur’s place in the fashion world and led to a slew of imitation-fur substitutes that soon became cooler than the real thing. Fake fur became what you wore if you had any ethical or environmental leanings.
Today organic cotton, sustainable clothing, and locally made products are leading the way, making fashion’s political statements resoundingly positive.