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5 ways feminism is making a mark in the fashion industry

In 2017 we saw some key feminist moments in the fashion industry. Alex, our Social Content and Community Lead, gives her thoughts on this topic.

As a recent Fashion Promotion graduate, I invest a lot of time into the fashion industry. I always keep up-to-date with the ins and outs of it.

It has been so refreshing to see a rise in female empowerment and feminism in the fashion industry. Designers and brands are using catwalks and clothing to campaign for equality.

The new Director at Dior

Dior is waving the flag for feminism. After 70 years of exploring femininity from a males perspective, they appointed the first female artistic director. Maria Grazia Chiuri made her mark with her first Dior collection in September 2016. She emblazoned t-shirts with the slogan “We Should All Be Feminists”. These became an instant sensation, sported by major celebs, such as Rihanna.

In autumn 2017, she gave a subtler nod to feminism. She designed her entire collection in blue. This was with the aim to make the colour genderless – striving for equality.

Designers making socially progressive statements

In February 2017, designers used the catwalk as a platform to make progressive statements. Something which is refreshing and amazing to see. Prabal Gurung’s show honoured powerful and inspiring women. The finale of his show appeared to be the highlight. He adorned his models in graphic t-shirts, with slogans such as “Our Minds, Our Bodies, Our Power” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fundamental Rights”. The diverse range of models made their debut by taking a slow stroll down the catwalk. Having them take a slow stroll meant audience members could take in each slogan individually.

Another advocate for punchy statement t-shirts was Jonathan Simkhai. He took his end-of-the-show bow in a t-shirt emblazoned with the words “Feminist AF”. Another item loved and supported by celebs, the t-shirt was a success. Jonathan took his act of feminism a step further. He donated 5 dollars made from each seat at his show, along with the money made from his t-shirt sales, to the planned parenthood organisation. This organisation seeks to advance women’s health and rights.

Marching to the catwalk

At Mara Hoffman’s show, the attention wasn’t solely on the clothes. She got the co-founders of the Women’s March in Washington to open it. They greeted the audience with a collection of empowering statements. These included messages about unity, change and equality.

The Women’s March was also incorporated into the closing of Angela Missoni’s show. Her models graced the catwalk sporting knitted pink pussy-hats – a fashion item linked with the Women’s Marches. These became a symbol of the marches after being proudly worn by women around the world.

Fashion label with a distinct feminist identity

I have also seen a rise in what I call ‘feminist fashion’. These are brands with a distinct feminist identity. A brand that particularly caught my attention was ‘Lawrenson’. The brand is characterised by its unique appearance, distinguished by their bold slogan t-shirts. These seek to empower women, stimulate conversation and strive for change. The other thing I love about this brand is that they prioritise the treatment of their garment workers and the environment. They pay workers a fair wage and produce garments from organic, biodegradable cotton.

Free the nipple

Free the nipple is a movement that I have seen make its mark in recent years. For anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a movement that strives for change and seeks for both genders to be treated equally. Why should it be acceptable for men to show their nipples but not women? At fashion week, there was a rise in the number of celebrities being photographed in see-through sheer tops without bras, in support of the movement.

Nicki Minaj also attempted to grab attention for this movement, putting her own spin on ‘freeing the nipple’. She turned up to the Haider Ackermann Fall 2017 show in a cutaway blazer without a bra or under top. She was covered only by a single, small metallic sticker over her nipple.

To me, it’s amazing to see the fashion industry getting so involved in promoting equality

My favourite movement is definitely Dior appointing Maria Grazia Chiuri. It’s a HUGE advancement to see a woman gain the role after 70-years of it belonging to only males. Not only is this a statement in itself, but she has taken it even further. To me, she is a huge role model. She has used her role as a platform to campaign for feminism. I admire the way she has chosen to emphasise the true ambitions, values and meaning of it. Reminding people that it’s about gender EQUALITY, not female supremacy. Her genderless collection is a reminder that gender should not define us or what we are expected to wear.

There has been a few times where I have seen brands try to promote feminism through the use of female only slogans. For example, “The Future is Female”. Don’t get me wrong, it is amazing to see them doing their part to empower women. But, one gender should not be superior to the other.

I’d love to know your thoughts on feminism within the fashion industry. Is there still a long way to go? Tweet me @totmorganic

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