The Herd

Fashion As A Political Statement

Max LeBlanc, Guest Writer

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Fashion is an industry of manipulation that utilizes societal structure to feed off insecurity and subjective ideals of beauty. Fashion is art. Fashion is an emphasis on the human form. Fashion is a multi faceted world of glamazonian models, chiffon, and artful design. No matter how it is viewed, the $300 trillion dollar industry is more than just ruffles and high heels. But can a runway change the political landscape of America? Guy Trebay gives his answer as he analyzes the designers of the 2017 New York Men’s Fashion Weeks efforts to change America’s current political climate.

After the historical presidential election of 2017, America has become reactionary, and the fashion industry is no different. Designers interviewed at this year’s fashion week were hoping to reclaim American values they feel have been forgotten by the current administration. Taofeek Abijako created oversized waist lines in remembrance of freed slaves, whose misfitting clothes were filled with hope for a new life. David Hart utilized bright caribbean colors and cuban elements to bring back cultures he felt had been exiled from the United States. Overall each collection spoke of a different message, of a different concern, yet each one politicalized the fashion industry, making clothing a form of protest.

Although the people impacted by Fashion Week were those that payed $400 for a seat, the styles showcased trickles down to impact the average American consumer. As large brand clothing stores bring back the tie dye and earth inspired looks of the 70’s, clothing becomes wearable propaganda, inspiring peace and creating an atmosphere that places social justice front and center. It’s a system that has been around for years. The designer reacts to the world around them on the runway, and the affordable companies mass produce the trends set by the designers, and Karen from accounting unknowingly wears a boho-chic maxi dress from Kohl’s that ties back to David Hart’s bright pastel colors speaking out against the Cuban embargo. When the streets are filled with the subliminal political agenda of the runway, it’s clear the fashion industry is developing the mood of the American public.

Many people dispute fashions right to a voice in the political arena. Claiming that it is a superficial platform that should adhere to makeup and accessories, but the fashion industry is unique. It is truly crafted to the what the consumers want, yet it manages to propel its own beliefs forward as well. It speaks for the public yet develops new attitudes the public will follow. It grants the people with the choice to choose a political statement of their own. The fashion industry empowers the people through art. When Dior militarized the women’s overcoat in hopes of continuing newfound power in the WWII female workforce, or Christian Louboutin’s shoes destroyed the image of promiscuity by using the red soled trademark of a prostitute, the fashion industry propelled social justice in America.

Fashion has already changed the political landscape of America.  In this historically tense political climate, fashion has risen to make bolder statements, and bolder clothes. Avant Garde styles are on the rise, and what was formerly outlandish is now “extra” and cute. So think about what’s happening around you. Judge the proverbial book jacket by its cover, and consider what we wear – what you wear – a statement. Is your outfit of the day a gripping piece that reflects the harrowing tale of modern feminism, or is it just a red sweater?  Either way, strut with confidence.


Trebay, Guy. “Hopeful Upstarts Kick Off Men’s Fashion Week in New York.” The New York Times, The New York Times, July. 2017,

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Fashion As A Political Statement