When fashion empowers ideas

Even those who believe they are out of fashion are immersed in it. I think that this can be, then, a political manifestation. Here I tell you why

When fashion empowers ideas

We are all immersed in fashion. Even if we were naked in the street, we would be obeying a tendency. Some are more aware of it and use it as a way of expressing themselves.  For others, dressing is a simple obligation. The truth is that the way we dress can say a lot about each person, even when we are not interested in showing anything. Fashion is also one of the industries that most influences the lives of people. Thus, in fashion we can see many of the dynamics that define us as a society. According to Jean Baudrillard (French philosopher), for example, the class struggle is very clear, since the upper classes impose a tendency that simulates the lower classes and when they have appropriated it, it goes out of style.

Leer en español: Cuando la moda empodera las ideas

Now, if fashion is so inserted in our identity and in the expression of our individuality, but also of us as a society, it can also work to question those dynamics that it reproduces itself. In this sense, the clothes and the adornments that we use can somehow exert resistance or mean something within the system in which we move.

Fashion and gender

Although now some garments in men and women are absolutely normal to us both, the truth is that some time ago his invention was a political act. It might seem strange that some were forbidden to wear a garment according to their gender. But this is the case with pants. Although it seems hard to believe, women we wear pants for less than a century.

The first women to wear pants were working-class women in Europe at the end of the 19th century, they borrowed them from their husbands to go to work because they were more comfortable. Without realizing it, these women had a gesture that meant a step forward towards gender equality, as they appropriated a garment that was exclusive to men. Then, women's trousers would become popular until the 60's. And even today in countries like Sudan they are illegal for women and using them is a political act and a form of risky protest.


Although fashion seems to be one of the institutions most interested in drawing lines between genres, it is also one of the ones that have helped to erase them. The drag, for example, emerged in the popular theater of the nineteenth century as a parody of social conventions. Transvestite was, then, a political act. Wearing garments designed for the other genre began to be a celebration of diversity and a manifestation of the absurdity of etiquette and glamor. Now, the drag queens star in many modern cultural productions in which they exaggerate and parody the ways of high society.


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Fashion and the environment

Fashion seems to be one of the most inviting industries to consume. The fast fashion -which consists of poor quality garments and trends that move at the speed of light- makes us renew our wardrobe with an impressive frequency. For this reason, I believe that fashion has the potential to fight against what it reproduces and fight it from within. This was the case of hippie fashion during the 1960s.

This movement protested against the capitalist practices of accelerated consumption. Thus, the hippie fashion consisted of reusing or even making the garments themselves. This is why the patches, fringes, and t-shirts were the clothes that were a trend because this was a way to protest against consumerism and be friendly to the environment without neglecting the style.

This fashion has mutated to what is now vintage fashion, which consists of reusing clothes that were fashionable a few decades ago. True Love and Poems, a local brands store that promotes sustainable fashion, states on the labels of its clothing that "extending the life of a garment reduces the carbon footprint". The brands of vintage fashion and slow fashion, then, are making a political statement, as they are opposed to accelerated consumption, forced labor, and indifference towards the environment. We as consumers can do the same.

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Fashion and race

The claims of race are not usually made through fashion. Music, literature, and art have always been responsible for this type of protest. However, we have seen in recent days two important fashionistas gestures that have criticized and shown support to the black community.

One of them was from Jenifer Lewis on the red carpet of the Emmy Awards. The actress of the series Black-ish wore a Nike outfit from head to toe to show support for the brand, which has hired the football player Colin Kaepernick, who kneels in each game during the anthem to protest the racism of President Trump, for his last campaign.

The also actress of Black-ish, Tracee Ellis Ross, decided to wear the only attire of black designers to be the host of the American Music Awards. These two actresses use privileged platforms -the prizes to which they are invited- to make visible certain problems.

It is because of all this that I believe that fashion is not neutral, that it means and represents something. While it has been the platform of discrimination at various times in history, it has also been the platform of resistance. The way we dress, in which we decorate our bodies and in which we consume fashion say something about ourselves, but they can say something more. Much more.


LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez Pabón

Translated from: 'Cuando la moda empodera las ideas'


* The opinion of the editor does not represent the average


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