Fashion is not just about wearing stylish clothes, it can also be used as a tool for political and social activism. Fashion has played a crucial role in politics, protests, and revolutions throughout history. It is a powerful way to express oneself, communicate ideas and challenge societal norms.
Fashion has always been intertwined with political and social movements. In the 1960s, the Hippie movement popularized tie-dye and bell-bottoms. This movement reflected the counterculture that rejected the prevailing norms of society. Likewise, the punk rock movement in the late 1970s used fashion to express anti-establishment sentiments. The punk fashion style with its ripped t-shirts, black leather jackets, and safety pins, was a strong declaration against the status quo in politics, society, and music.
Similarly, political figures like First Lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris have used fashion to convey their political and social message. Michelle Obama’s fashion choices reflected her commitment to diversity and sustainability. Her dress choices that included J.Crew, designer labels like Jason Wu, and Zac Posen made fashion affordable, inclusive and empowered working-class women and people of color. Vice President Kamala Harris’s Inauguration Day outfit, designed by Christopher John Rogers and Sergio Hudson, aimed to highlight the power of unity, hope, and strength.
Fashion has also played an instrumental role in various protest movements. For instance, feminist protests starting in the 1960s have used fashion as a symbol of resistance and empowerment. The “pussy hat” during the Women’s March in 2017 and the “notorious RBG” shirts during the fight against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination of the Supreme Court is an example of how fashion became a tool of protest and political statement.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement also has been utilizing fashion as a part of their protests. Political T-shirts and hoodies that feature the BLM movement’s slogans, symbols, and faces of victims of police brutality has escalated in popularity. Over time, fashion has become a physical way to bring attention to the social and political issues of the black community.
Apart from being a tool for resistance and protest, fashion also reflects the complex cultural and political connections across different societies. In India, the Charkha symbolized by Mahatma Gandhi became a symbol of independence and self-reliance during the Indian freedom struggle. Likewise, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) uniform with its Mao-style button-collar jacket, green pants, and army boots conveyed the leadership and authority to the masses.
In conclusion, fashion is so much more than just clothes, it can be a tool for political and social activism and a reflection of complex political relations and cultural connections. It has been used to challenge societal norms and communicate political messages, act as a symbol of resistance and empowerment, and serve as an extension of political leaders. Fashion will continue to play a vital role in protests, politics, and revolutions, and challenge social norms to change for the better.