This NYFW, collections were infused with political sentiment. It may have been because aw17 in New York is scheduled for the weeks after Inauguration, or because many designers came out for Hillary during election season.
Regardless, the pure existence of women is political. We should not be shocked that the fashion industry is capable of denouncing a rise in fascism while handcrafting beautiful garments and venues for the public.
Here are some collections that were very political in the slogans and fundraising mechanisms that companies implemented in February.
Mara Hoffman – This fall collection, Mara Hoffman included the four founders of the massive Women’s March of January 21st. The women spoke about unity and revolution before the show started, declaring, “We stand for women of color, women with disabilities, the undocumented, the LGBTQIA+ community, etc.”
Prabal Gurung – Showed T-shirts with phrases such as “The future is female” and “Our minds our bodies” to demonstrate a pro-women sentiment.. Gurung also showed models larger than a size 0, though he initially was hesitant to show these T-shirts with bold statements and break size norms.
(BryanBoy and others wearing Gurung shirts)
Jonathan Simkhai – Simkhai also created t-shirts that read “Feminist AF”, leaving shirts on rows of chairs. Simkhai left a note that for every seat at his show, $5 would go to Planned Parenthood. The simplistic design with a political statement will be seen paired with a fur coat and jeans as the weather warms up.
Beyond the t-shirts, the collection was full of bold, elegant women wearing embellishments and looks with aristocratic principles to give women power.
PP x CFDA – For Fall 2017, the Council of Fashion Designers of America created buttons to spread awareness about Planned Parenthood’s vitality. By giving fashion designers, press, bloggers, models, agencies, and influencers pins that read “Fashion stands with Planned Parenthood”, the CFDA hoped the fashion community would recognize how many people have used the health care services.
Every occasion that someone Instagrammed or Tweeted a photo of their exclusive pin during NYFW, CDFA donated $5 to Planned Parenthood, which is likely to become under attack for the next four years.
(above is DVF in her CFDA x PP pin)
White Bandana – Business of Fashion started a campaign called #TiedTogether, how fashion is often about the unspoken sense of community. The symbol of the white bandana was intended to bring together fashion insiders by encouraging them to wear bandanas to depict equality, diversity, and of course, unity. For each #tiedtogether post, BOF donated $5 to ACLU and UNHCR.
Public School – “Make America New York” was the slogan from Osborne and Chow. The NY natives dedicated their collection to the post-election anxieties in New York while a faint “This Land is Your Land” played in the background. The illegibility of the Red Hat from a distance preached exactly the opposite of what was assumed about the hats.
Diversity is what make New York City so vibrant, exactly what Public School strived to show this season.
Tome – This season, Tome dedicated its collection to the infamous artwork from the Guerilla Girls, the historic alliance of female artists. Most looks were highly simplistic with various feminist details, forcing the viewer to find the subtle messaging. Blazers had GG written on them, famous GG statements appeared, and more obviously, gorilla gloves were seen this season.
(A famous Guerrilla Girls piece, below)
I was very excited about the important advocacy, awareness, and action that the fashion community displayed during NYFW ss17. Not only were the collections depicting diversity more than ever, the financial contributions made by brands is a significant tool the industry can utilize for these next 4 years. The everchanging fashion cycle should respond more to the news around it, including politics within fashion to promote empowering, relevant collections to create a new creative role for the industry.