Sunday, 19 February 2017

How Political is Your Wardrobe?

Fashion, as we have seen in recent weeks, is political. U.S. President Trump in his not-so-eloquent address over the Nordstrom decision to drop his daughter's line of clothing highlights how the politics of fashion are in play. Even if it meant disregarding a statement he previously made that "the president can not have a conflict of interest." But that is a whole other story left for another time and venue. It is actually a Globe and Mail article, "Designing Dissent", that has me thinking about the politics of fashion.

Most recently the Pussyhat Project became the latest political fashion trend to hit the streets. But since the January 21 protest march this political symbol has moved from the street scene to an artifact at the Michigan State University Museum. Did it become a symbol of the march or a conversation prompt leading to change as the co-creators hoped it would? According to the Globe and Mail article, "[f]ashion translates our world but rarely offers social commentary" offering a cynical look at the recent appearances of political symbols on the fashion runways.

How political are our wardrobes? I've never understood how people consider fashion as frivolous when there is identity and environmental politics at play with wardrobe choices made. I've participated in the RTW fast movement because of the environmental impact of fast fashion.

And the fact that I can make better quality clothes than I can find in the ready-to-wear landscape. Sewing is certainly a political act for me.  So I found the closing statement of the Globe and Mail article hard to swallow, "protest in the fashion industry rarely makes it past the end of the catwalk." I have to strongly disagree. A simple article of clothing or a certain style of dress may not seem to have an immediate political impact. But the critiques of society are historically underlined by the way we dress and signal our approval or discontent with the world around us. And these critiques do not appear and disappear on the catwalk, they're created in our creative spaces as well.

So, are there articles of clothing that made it into your closet because of a statement you're trying to make?

Happy Sewing!


  1. I am a conservative. I vote and dress that way

    1. My fashion taste gets excited and runs towards the avant garde and chic styles but my work life and lifestyle demands a more conservative mode of dress... identity politics at play. I guess you can say that I'm just playing dress-up. ;)

  2. Well, I have worn my 'pussy hat' a few times after the march because it was warm. <:)
    I tend to be practical with my sewing with comfort and machine washable being my main priorities. Also try to mend things if there's time so it stays out of the landfill for a little while longer. I guess I could say my practices are more of a statement than the article of clothing.

    1. I love to hear that the pussy hat is not fading into a museum artifact. :) It means the conversation is alive and well. The Globe and Mail article made me sad with its viewpoint that political statements and logos seen on the catwalk are all about moving merchandise and have no significant impact on the sleepwalking consumers. I'm paraphrasing here, there is a link to the article. I'm wondering what other people may think about the article. My sewing is political as well in regards to the fabrics I sew with. I have been changing my fabric purchases towards natural fibres because of quality I've been seeing in man-made fabrics along with the health and environment impact of these man-made fabrics.

  3. I've never thought about "the politics" of what I wear, but I do know that for all the decades that I've sewn, it's been because I can't afford what I would want to wear in RTW, and what I can afford, I do not care to wear for all the reasons that you have mentioned. It's sad to think that only a very small percentage of the population actually knows or even cares about all the issues with clothing production. Most people are quite happy to buy that $5 t-shirt. I'll just keep sewing and feeling smug about the fact that it's the "right thing" to do.


McCall's 7630: Pullover Top

It's an easy sewing project for a loose-fitting pullover top. It's my second go with this pattern and I still want to make another ...