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Politics and the fashion industry have become a new and innovative combination. In the past decade, politics and voting advocacy has been incorporated into the world of fashion like we’ve never seen before. Previously, designers and brands have steered away from mixing the two in an attempt to keep their platforms neutral and to not alienate a certain audience. There was also no real need or interest by both designers and consumers to ever incorporate politics and fashion until now. So what changed?
In today’s society, politics, especially the topic of voting, is all you hear about or see. In the past, the topic of voting was seen as more private. However, with so many important issues on the line, advocating for people to go out and vote is seen everywhere, so much so that the fashion industry has no choice but to embrace it. The “trend” of today is going out to vote and making your political action known, so brands that embrace this concept, keeps them not only relevant, but accountable. By combining fashion with politics, both sides are benefitting; politics and voting are promoted to a larger and more diverse group of people, and designers and brands are gaining media attention from making these statements.
The integration of politics into the fashion industry started to pick up during the 2000s. In recent years, climate change has been an important and controversial topic in politics. In 2013, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City debuted its costume exhibition, with clothes having statements such as “Save our Sea” and “58% don’t want pershing” written on them. Certain celebrities started wearing pieces that endorsed a certain politician or idea, such as Katy Perry’s “Forward” dress endorsing candidate Barack Obama in 2012. Fashion historically was used to make a statement, but now brands are taking these topics and designing pieces specifically for a political agenda.
Streetwear powerhouse Off-White collaborated with Fashion Our Future, a community dedicated to sustainable fashion, to create voter incentive t-shirts. These shirts have phrases such as “Model Voter” and “Vote” written on them as well as electoral maps, designed in the typical Off-White style. Voting is now trendy. At checkout, consumers are directed to a website where they can register to vote if they haven’t already done so. Stuart Weitzman created the 5050 Vote Boot, a boot with “Vote” plastered down it. Not only does this clearly get the message across to whoever is walking by, but when these $695 boots are bought, all of the proceeds go to the “I am a Voter” campaign. Designer Cristian Siriano created an entire look, including a dress, a hat, and a face mask, which the word “VOTE” written repeatedly in a bold white font, contrasting the black background of the outfits. He displayed this in his runway show and it was photographed and posted all over the internet. These designers have taken their platforms and used their voices to reach a larger audience than a normal politician would be able to, and have encouraged them to vote and do their part as a member of a community as well as an American. What we are seeing now is a new, young generation taking real and important issues and making them trendy and fashionable. Politics is officially “in” and here to stay for the future of American consumers and voters.