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Can protest fashion lead to Action?

With the recent political and social demonstrations happening across the country, I began thinking about the intersection of fashion, politics and protests. Specifically, how can fashion support social and political movements? Is fashion too trivial to have a real impact on cultural issues? What does it mean to protest? Protests are the voice of the people and are useful in driving change. Fashion is also a useful tool for change. Fashion reflects the cultural zeitgeist of a society and acts as one of the methods to bring attention to a particular issue.

Fashion and culture

In some cases fashion is ahead of the cultural curve. For example, three years ago designers began to send pieces down the runway with bold political statements during New York Fashion Week that foreshadowed the current political climate. Using clothing to make a political or social statement is a clever way to share a specific point-of-view on a broader platform. Everyone can relate to clothing on some level whether it's a slogan T-shirt or a peace symbol, there is always meaning behind the image.


Guys looking to show their support and speak out can use their clothing to be an advocate. Protest clothing is a way to rebel against the status quo and show individuality or "otherness". Otherness refers to the ability to be different. The ability to be different drives fashion. Combining otherness with rebellion makes a powerful statement which can start a movement. New York Times fashion writer, Alexander Fury says, "rebellion is what drives people into clothing devised to further provoke and agitate, to be highly visible rather than blandly anonymous, the power of "otherness" as a tool of protest".