In a world where industries are shaken by disturbing discoveries, no one could be blamed for overlooking fashion as a way to handle such revelations. Yet, surprisingly, style could be the ideal tool to raise awareness of issues long overdue in being tackled.
Certain events can allow us to look outside our own experiences and focus our attention on others. When disaster hits, our collective concerns seem to melt from the worries of quotidian life and re-form to combat bigger problems we’d previously not have thought to take on alone.
Some people show their support for victims affected by various social and political issues by standing in solidarity with them through protesting or letter writing. Some even choose to vote with their dollar, so to speak, by abstaining from propping up certain brands, organisations or practices.
Yet others let fashion do the talking for them: from fundraising catwalk shows like Fashion Fighting Poverty and socially-conscious adverts by leading commercial brands, to slogan tees in everyday life. These efforts make it clear that fashion can be used as a force for change, even if that force relies heavily on beauty, story-telling and escapism.
The 2018 Golden Globes showcased a good example of solidarity through fashion when its A-list attendees donned all black outfits in support of the #TIMESUP movement. The Grammys followed suit with the white rose, a peaceful symbol echoing an understanding that victims of assault would no longer have to suffer in quiet despair.
It’s also not unusual for slogan tees to be seen on those who want to put a message out to the world they inhabit. We Should All Be Feminists, Power to The People and, of course, Time’s Upslogan sweaters have most recently been seen on a new generation of ‘woke’ consumers. Such minute activism allows room for more open dialogue on issues concerning gender, sex, race, faith and equality. No longer are these topics reserved for the powers that be who, as it happens, tend to be male, white and wealthy.
A fashionable gesture doesn’t have to be excessive; celebrity support through pins and roses worn on red carpets attest to that. Though a simple visual aid, the decorative accessories spoke louder than even the most gifted of speakers could have mustered to stir up unanimity and a genuine collaborative effort to make a difference.
Thus, expressing a concurring thought through style creates a sense of together-ness and belonging in people, while simultaneously projecting to the affected that they’re not alone and to the yet un-enlightened that it’s time to open their eyes and take action.
How interesting that such feeling, thought and vigorous action could be conceptualized in design, evoked through fashion? How refreshing that fashion, a medium too often dismissed as being frivolous, can be used as a tool for making an important and supportive statement?
It’s clear that, now more than ever, expressing solidarity does not rob us of our individuality. Rather, it provides a platform for our individual voices to be heard so that, through common interest, each one of us can stand up unquestioned.