TREND ALERT: Feminism Is the Latest High-Fashion Trend
A protester at the Women’s March in the US. PH Jessica Hill/AP
Take the political sloganeering of this election cycle and add in fashion’s current love of merch and you have this season’s boldest trend: the slogan T-shirt. Could we call this “Designer protest wear”?
Seen on runways from New York to Paris, the wordy tees are everywhere. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s “We Should All Be Feminists” at Dior surely takes the cake for clearest political messaging at Fashion Week (and will likely become a best seller as a result). The shirt, retailing for $700, was an immediate social media success and has since been worn by Natalie Portman and Rihanna. Dior announced that a portion of sales from its “We Should All Be Feminists” tees will benefit The Clara Lionel Foundation.
Political T-shirts positively proliferated particularly at New York Fashion Week: Jonathan Simkhai gifted front-row attendees to his show with “Feminist AF” shirts, and Prabal Gurung, citing January’s women’s marches as inspiration, debuted T-shirts decorated with messages including “The Future Is Female” and “Nevertheless She Persisted.”
This is not about whether by wearing this T-shirts you became a feminist, or whether the imperfections of the fashion industry sully the principles of feminism. It is not even, in this instance, about the ethics of wearing a mass-produced T-shirt proclaiming solidarity with women when the production of cheap T-shirts often involves low-paid female labour. But the powerful slogans on the T-shirts subvert to the insidious misogyny of a culture in which women tend to be visible only if attractive, and even then are seldom granted a voice. A T-shirt that says something the establishment does not want to hear turns the seen-and-not-heard attitude on its head.
Here is a selection of my favorite t-shirts. Are we for or against this trend? Should we make such a significant movement into a trend? Worrying over the right way to style our t-shirts that proclaim one’s feminism seems odd. And when he message is, “We should all be feminists, but I also believe in lipstick and this season’s Gucci loafers.” it just ruins the whole idea of the movement itself.
Elizabeth and James ‘Stronger Together’ T-shirt, $95 ; 20% of sales through February 1 goes to Baby2Baby, which provides necessities to low-income children