Should fashion labels stay away from politics?

Politics is subjective and debatable. When paired with fashion, it can be criticised as being hypocritical.

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Fashion is being denounced, amongst other things, as one of the elitist industries that exploits third world labour, objectifies women and cheapens political ideals. Take for example, Supreme, an American skateboarding, designer clothing brand, introduced its politically charged SS18 collection, with a hoodie bearing Dr. Martin Luther King’s image. Question: How many of Supreme’s skateboarding customers will understand the significance of Dr King’s life and legacy because they bought a Supreme hoodie?

Supreme’s hoodie

Fashion has been said to trivialise complex debates, in the pursuit of profit. There are countless books, essays and lectures devoted to feminist theory, yet Maria Grazia Chiuri’s first collection, for Dior 2017, put ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ on a $700 t-shirt. Was that driven by belief in the cause, or simply by profit?

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Social justice comes at a price. Dior could have proven its feminist beliefs by introducing equal pay for women across the company and by removing all salary discrepancies amongst its employees. But have they?

Patagonia is an American designer that markets and sells outdoor clothing for silent sports: climbing, fishing , skiing, surfing, trail running and snowboarding. It encourages customers to bring in their old products to be repaired in-store, rather than disposing of them to buy new ones. In the design label’s effort to speak out against environmental issues, it shut all of its 29 retail stores across America, as well as its headquarters and distribution centre, on election day 2016.

Patagonia did not simply posture, it saw it as a moral duty to campaign for environmental issues and display meaningful action. Meanwhile, Supreme and Dior appear to have exploited political slogans in the pursuit of increasing their revenues.

Many consumers confuse buying and wearing socially conscious fashion as a political act, rather than the hollow practice it really is. However, recently, Nike, the sportswear giant, has re-affirmed its opposition to discrimination. Its support was proven by its ad campaign with Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49rs quarter back, who has drawn attention and awareness to racial injustice and police brutality by kneeling in protest during the US national anthem. It is said that the NFL (National Football League) is colluding to keep the unemployed Kaepernick out of its teams. Nike, however, prides itself on ‘opposing discrimination and has a long-standing commitment to diversity, inclusion and respect’.

See YouTube video: https://Youtu.be/Y31hkoXEMHU

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A White man in South Africa used offensive racial slurs in a video that went viral, An eyewitness revealed that his wife worked for Nike. As a result, two Nike shops in a mall in Sandton, Johannesburg’s financial district, closed on Tuesday 4th September 2018 and remained shut. Nike has eleven locations in South Africa and is fully aware of the likely backlash and recrimination by critics of the protesters, who are posting videos of themselves burning Nike products. However, Nike has shown corporate bravery, by ‘standing out on the right side’. I believe that Nike has created an awareness of its political stance and revived old customers and recruited new ones.

Nike has shown the right way to get involved in political and social issues, while managing to increase sales and profits. Other fashion would-be activists should take note.

4 thoughts on “Should fashion labels stay away from politics?

  1. Nike should be researched fully before buying their products. They are members of an elite organisation and are part of a very dark agenda. An agenda that has a very dark and sinister outlook for the many ethnic customers whom purchase their sports wear. In short, it’s not a Nike ‘tick’ it is the side of a ring around Saturn. Saturn and black box Satan worshippers! …. don’t believe me??? Go research yourselves and don’t take my word for it! So, yes nasty politics should stay out of fashion – but beware whose ‘dark cloak’ you applause on the grand finale runway.

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