Fashion has the power to define generations and movements, and America is no stranger to powerful and political fashion.
In the 1800s, women began to rebel against restrictive, tight fashion. Amelia Bloomer, founder of the feminist paper The Lily, started the trend of women wearing pants in her Bloomers outfit.
According to The Household (1874), “In order to make our dress healthier, we must first make it looser around the waist, like men.” The women’s suffrage movement was seen in purple, white and gold fashion during the protest.
White symbolized purity and virtue, and was used to counteract the negative stigma of the early suffrage movement. Later feminist movements used burning bras to symbolize the fight for equality. Counterculture fashion took the nation by storm as a way to rebel against the traditional American dream and the conformist image of the 1950s.
Handmade fashions and psychedelic patterns provided the backdrop for protests against the Vietnam War, fights for civil rights, and a growing distrust of government.The 21st The century has seen an explosion of political fashion statements. During the #MeToo movement, many celebrities and politicians showed their support by wearing all black.
The 2019 State of the Union address featured democratic women in red lipstick and white suits in a throwback to the previous suffrage movement. There were various political messages throughout. Congressman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wore a “Tax the Rich” dress. Cara Delevigne wore a “Peg the Patriarchy” top and Dan Levy wore a custom her suit with her two men kissing.
Today, design activism is the new wave of political fashion.
Designers everywhere produce clothes with political messages, lead campaigns and organizations that support minority businesses, and work to create more ethical and sustainable businesses.
Generation Z is the most politically conscious these days, driving the fashion industry more politically than ever.