Fashion has forever dealt with social and political issues, but this season the messages haven’t been presented as a subtle undercurrent. Instead, they have been bold and unapologetic.
Undeniably, the inauguration of Donald Trump earlier this year – which meant the Trumps were to take the Obamas place in The White House – has been the catalyst for outspoken sartorial movements, namely concerned with promoting feminism.
There have since been many political statements made in the fashion world. First, designers such as Tom Ford openly refused to dress First Lady Melania Trump for her husband’s inauguration in a stand against his controversial policies.
Then came a parade of political statements made by designers throughout New York Fashion Week. Slogan tees were one example, kicked off last season in the Dior SS17 show, when Maria Grazia Chiuri showed t-shirts with the statements, ‘Dio(R)evolution’ and ‘We Should All Be Feminists’. Following suit, Prabal Gurung incorporated t-shirts presenting political messages in his show at NYFW last month, saying, ‘The Future Is Female’, ‘This Is What A Feminist Looks Like’ and ‘I Am An Immigrant’. Also, cult label Creatures of Comfort models wore t-shirts emblazoned with the words, ‘We Are All Human Beings’, and LSR’s debut collection included knickers which presented the words, ‘No Ban No Wall’ in reference to Trump’s Muslim ban.
Also in the wake of Trump’s disastrous policies, Business of Fashion launched the social media campaign #TiedTogether, to symbolise ‘the common bonds of humankind — regardless of race, sexuality, gender or religion’. At his NYFW show last month, Tommy Hilfiger and the models showed solidarity by wearing white bandanas around their wrists.
However, fashion brands such as Dior have been criticised for being ironic on account of using the politics as a marketing ploy, instead of a way to directly impact political change; a ruse to gain capital and coverage with no intent of helping causes directly in the way of funding.
In response to the critics, Maria Grazia Chiuri has announced that Dior will be partnering with Rihanna’s charity Clara Lionel Foundation, and will donate the proceeds from the ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ t-shirt to the charity.
Rihanna’s nonprofit organisation, which she founded in 2012, aims to ‘support and fund innovative and effective education and health programs around the world.’ Last year the foundation allowed students from the Caribbean and South America to gain higher education in America.
Rihanna is also an ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education and Global Citizen Project, which helps to end poverty around the world, and last month she was awarded the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award from Harvard University for her contribution to helping impoverished areas get access to healthcare and education.
Speaking to WWD, Maria Grazia Chiuri said, ‘We are so proud to support the Rihanna project. If you want to change the culture around the world, there is no other way but to invest in education.’
The t-shirt can be purchased from Dior for £490, and a percentage of the proceeds from each sale will go to the Clara Lionel Foundation until the 15th May 2017.