Feeling low? Buy a T-shirt. Brands have taken to their product to promote goodwill at UBM Fashion MAGIC trade show. Perhaps a sister trend to the outspoken protest moments seen during New York Fashion Week last week, this look is less against fighting the authority and more about making sure you’re feeling positive while you swing by the weekly sit-in.
Especially prominent were slogans promoting feminism, self-worth and encouragement to seek satisfaction within. Despite the obvious irony of goodwill statements on material products, the sentiment rang true and not sarcastic — most of the time. The sardonic moments might have been the most eye-catching: Wildfox’s neon pink sweatshirt with “Fear Not” — a play on the popular No Fear slogans from the Nineties and early Aughts — and the brand’s “Make Space Great Again” were wonderful assertions for protest-minded consumers.
Retailers, fashion designers and brands have found themselves swept into the political wildfire since the news of the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president. From the designers who pledged to not dress First Lady Melania Trump to Nordstrom’s Twitter spat with POTUS following the news of its choice not to continue selling Ivanka Trump’s namesake line, it was uncertain how the runways would reflect the current political climate.
In an industry based on products both constrained and extreme, the messages seen during New York Fashion Week followed suit. Statements ran the gamut from “The Future Is Female,” to “Be the Change You Want to See” at Alice + Olivia. Public School put a fashion twist on the red trucker hat worn by the president during his campaign — reworking the slogan on the hat to read “Make America New York.”
What’s more, many designers used their runway as their personal platform to voice their stance on current hot-button issues like the potential defunding of Planned Parenthood to immigration. Jonathan Simkhai wore a slogan T-shirt for his final wave that said, “Female AF” and pink pins in support of Planned Parenthood were seen on Marchesa’s Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig.
Brands seem to be getting one thing right that designers might have missed. While there is plenty of room for the say-it-loud-say-it-clear crowd, many consumers will likely gravitate to borderline messaging that suggests alternatives in order to endure the next four years.