can fashion still have a political ambition?

Fashion has never been held accountable for politics, but we’re living in an age where bowing out of the conversation is no longer acceptable.

by i-D Team
27 March 2015, 4:07am

"With fashion as a means of communication, we can reach out to so many people. So we should send out positivity and love to spread a good message and go beyond all politics and beliefs to bring people together, because I believe fashion can bring people from all different horizons together!" Nicola Formichetti

"Fashion can be seen as an exploration of designers' ideologies and could be an expression of their political views, but whether a brand decides to broadcast a political message through their collections is their own decision, just as it is [up to] the industry and the final consumer to embrace or revoke it. Fashion empowers people, giving them confidence through how they feel and how they look. Fashion is a psychological tool, a feel good factor in everyday life. Thinking back, since art school, only Katharine Hamnett stands out as an actual political voice: precise messages were effectively presented through her collection." Neil Barrett 

"The fashion industry should try to change itself from "a body fascist, world poisoning, labour rights violating carnival of consumption" (War On Want) to something beneficial for the planet and its inhabitants, by creating legislation that only allows goods into developed countries' economic blocs, which carry multi-stakeholders' verified certifications that they are made in conformity with the same human rights, labour laws, living wage, health and safety, and building safety standards as we have within them." Katharine Hamnett 

"The global and local body politics will hopefully always derive its inspiration from all kinds of human expression. Art has a privileged role in this inspiration, due to its singularity, emotion, directness and sometimes intangible forms of expression. Fashion for me is a creative field that, as part of our collective artistic expression, can often help inform the inspiration that helps lead us forward." Dries Van Noten

"Politics for me has always been somewhere between a giant douche and a turd sandwich (cue the South Park theme). But I think fashion can have some political ambitions, it's just very difficult for those who are neither politically correct, nor at the top of the food chain. If you are someone like Anna Wintour OBE or Ms Samantha Cameron, who's on the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund panel, you should have no fear of having a political stance because no one can take you down easily, and your opinions actually matter, say fundraising for Obama. But for the small potatoes who are trying to make it in the industry, they learn to shut up unless they have something nice to say. Coming out of the 'political closet' is scary and might just be detrimental. I can't help but wonder, can any anti-government designers ever receive the Fashion Forward Fund prize supported by the Mayor of London? In my opinion, as long as we are living in a (fashion) community supported and led by people associated with big political parties and establishments, we simply have to live by their rules and be cooperative!" Ryan Lo

"I've always believed that fashion can have a political ambition. I also think that artists and creative people should use their voices and their work to communicate with the world. When doing collections and fashion shows I have used this opportunity to express my vision and view on the world. In my newest collection, Explicit Beauty, I expressed my concerns about freedom of expression. The incident with Paul McCarthy and the Butt Plug sculpture at Place Vendôme in October last year was the trigger for me to make these statements. As well as the slogans 'Warning Explicit Beauty' and 'Demand Beauty', I used the butt plug in prints, embroideries and as accessories to underline the message." Walter Van Beirendonck

the activist issue
generation z
neil barrett
Dries Van Noten
Nicola Formichetti
Gen Z
Katharine Hamnett
Walter Van Beirendonck
ryan lo
faustine steinmetz
political ambition