Nasty Gal’s #NastyWoman merch in support of Hillary Clinton, Dior’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ white tees, Emma Watson’s need to empower Belle’s fairytale wardrobe, and the comeback of slogan clothing are all indicative of a movement—feminism! The fashion industry seems to be championing the drive to the point where fashion designers even boycotted dressing the First Lady of the United States in protest of Donald Trump’s move to defund Planned Parenthood.
In all this furor, we caught up with blogger Lou Ramsay of PredicamentsOfLou for some perspective on whether fashion houses today are truly feminist or are they feeding off the sentiments of their biggest buying demographic—women.
Over To Lou
The industry has seen a surge of Girl Power themes and the reintroduction of pink as a staple colour, as millennial pop fuchsia graces all areas of the catwalk and our Instagram feeds. We use #squad in our captions to do our best spin-off on the Bad Blood music video. Our t-shirts are now emboldened with feminist slogans and girl gang mantras.
Most notably among these was Dior’s Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut collection which featured the famous “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirt. The piece was inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx talk and essay, both of the same name. Knock-offs come in at £10 on Etsy, while Topshop sells ‘Feminist’ branded sweatshirts for £24.
So what exactly is the price for feminism? Dior says it’s £490; Topshop says it’s £24.
Dorothy Perkins Feminist For Life T-Shirt, £9.60
#Feminism A Fad?
It is the function of fashion to reflect our times and in it, our desires as its fundamental elements. Social media has given us the opportunity to delve into worlds previously unknown; learn of cultures and lives around the globe.
However, it has also given way for cultural and social issues to gain #trending status—impactful in short spurts rather than long-standing, because tomorrow something else will go #viral. While this is fine for the next hot nail colour or luxury print for the season, when it comes to social movements, in our case, feminism, resigning it to ‘trend’ status and treating it such is not exactly in the right spirit.
Fashion For Profit Or Change?
It’s been three years since Emma Watson was announced as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador and graced the cover of ELLE UK. Interestingly, she made some pretty powerful headlines this year but both were very contradictory in nature. First: For insisting her character Belle in Beauty And The Beast have an empowering wardrobe. And subsequently, for being called out as a pseudo feminist when she posed topless on the cover of a fashion magazine.
We have to analyse whether or not the fashion industry and high fashion houses are truly championing feminism as a movement, or treating it like a trend.
It appears as though Chanel did so back in Spring-Summer’15, with a catwalk march protest seemingly for women’s rights. Signs were held aloft by models that read ‘History is Her Story’, ‘Ladies First’ and ‘Women’s Rights Are More Than Alright’. Well, we need revered greats like the house of Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld to change perceptions, right?
Boohoo Plus Keira Killing It Printed T-Shirt, £8
Rewind and you find the source of this inspiration. 2014 was dubbed the Year of the Feminist with many big fashion houses getting behind the cause like Chanel. In their SS15 campaign, Celiné had Joan Didion as their campaign star, a feminist icon and a writer who embodies a level of cool we all crave to reach. Since Phoebe Philo took over in 2008, the house has become a staple for thought-provoking campaign images.
Fast-forward to today and Dior’s Chiuri is keeping feminism alive in the fashion stratosphere, eagerly helped by high street stores like Topshop and H&M.
Dorothy Perkins Hear Me Roar T-shirt, £20
Looking Past The Slogan On The T-Shirt
How feminist is it when those same t-shirts are being made by a woman being paid pitiful money in a third world country, in appalling conditions, who has yet to see any benefit of feminism in her lifetime? As I.D proclaimed, “fashion is big business”, so really how much of a movement is this fashionable feminism that’s driven primarily by sales that don’t tell the backstory or the origins of the piece you so proudly wear on your back?
‘For the first time since the Spice Girls, Girl Power has a marketing sweet spot,’ reported I.D. But, it appears to be going sour. Gaby Basora at Tucker commented: “It’s not only the woman who wears the clothes who makes a difference. It’s the women who sew the clothes, the pattern makers, and the women who go off to work to support their families.”
If we are to support our fellow women, the sisterhood that’s being reborn with each Girl Power mantra t-shirt sold, then shouldn’t that mean every type of woman? Dior may now be taking the helm of the high fashion movement, but lest we forget, Dior’s advert campaigns and catwalks have been predominately white. The label still lacks diversity, both in race and body shape.
Going back to Susie Lau who had this to say at the Chanel SS’15 show: “Whatever Lagerfeld’s true stance on feminism is, it is difficult to believe the conviction of a uniform of women, held up by an unrealistic standard of beauty, waving such banners whilst wearing clothes that are prohibitively expensive.”
New Look Girls Forever Boys Whatever T-Shirt, £6
We cannot claim a human rights movement for fashion if we do not fully show and believe in the core values. A feminism for the catwalk will not truly be feminism unless it is intersectional. Many things we women today take for granted were built on the backs of those who fought hard for our rights. Were they catwalk models of aesthetically pleasing statute holding aloft banners that read ‘Boys should get pregnant too’?
I think not. If feminism is to stay in the mainstream and continue its fourth wave fight, then we need to do more Women’s Marches and fewer actions designed purely for zeitgeist approval, #squad pictures included.
If you loved Lou Ramsay as much as we did, be sure to catch her at PredicamentsOfLou.com for perspective and pieces that delve beyond the surface of fashion and beauty. Her blog is a place to indulge in low-brow pop culture, ease into high-brow think pieces, devour recommendations of The New Age of news, and sigh over fine tailoring. Are you up for some Girl-Bossery and millennial contemplations?
Shop For BestSellers Here:
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