“If you don’t ask, you don’t get”. It’s something I heard frequently in my childhood. “Speak up” was another along with “Stop showing off”- something most people heard at least once growing up. Time passes and the bag of phrases we had chosen not to hear, now lie in the back of our minds as we parade the streets, our workplaces and the front rows alike doing exactly what our parents told us not to do. We wear our money, and we wear it brazenly.
At its most primitive, embellishing the front of our sweaters are large, bold and prominent words. Sometimes they’re small and Discreet and intricate. Decorated in luminous sequins, metallic threads and floral motifs. They’re sewn onto the backs of jackets, on a pocket or embroidered onto the strap of our patent pump.I’m speaking of logos or brand names- the symbolic representation that embodies a brand and the approximate ball-park-figure one can quite easily assume it costs.
The millennials who once cut the labels and logos out of their clothing circa 2015, are now wearing their logos with pride, pleated-skirts and tailored trousers alike. The influx of branded sportswear like the prominent patronage of Supreme, becomes a form of identification as being a collector or follower of the brand. There is however, a fine line between it being an ostentatious trend, or merely the way we express personal style and a love of the brands we see as deities.
It is possible that designers realise the effect that logos have as they aptly serve as free advertising campaigns with the growth of street-style and blogger influence. Consequently, this could be a motive as to why they are using their visual voice to address global issues with their ready-to-wear collections. But when did we start getting our clothes to do the talking for us? When did fashion’s voice start speaking louder than a politician’s?
We’re wearing policies and concepts in the way that we’ve been wearing logos. Designers are directly responding to the news in the same way that Chanel’s SS15 ‘riot’ echoed feminism and Walter Van Beirendonck’s AW15 show responded to the Charlie Hebdo attacks, as well as to the removal of artist Paul McCarthy’s installation from the Place Vendôme.
Fashion has further cemented its foot into politics than before. And like a controlled zone in itself, the catwalk has become the most recent place to protest social and global issues campaigning for creative freedom and social justices alike.
Across the Autumn/Winter 2017 fashion weeks, the logo metamorphosed into action-provoking slogans, becoming a stage for diversity, support and hope. At Creatures Of Comfort, mustard cascaded into grey, fuchsias, brown and navy blue before socio-political statements were materialised via pale pink and blue sweaters- “We are all human beings” they read. The Row kept it simple as ‘Hope’ was embroidered onto the cuff of their shirts whilst Prabal Gurung used his finale to bring out T-shirts printed in statements like “Break Down Walls” and ‘Love Is The Resistance’.
It was at London Fashion Week where Ashish became a pioneer for this socio-political trend where a diverse assembly of models and a slogan-fuelled collection sauntered down the BFC Show Space. Models’ faces were painted by make-up artist Isamaya Ffrench as they emerged from in-between a broken glittered heart, against a fairytale landscape of red Poppies lining a glittering gold floor. Ashish’s widely anticipated dynamism, contrasting stripes and a plethora of colour formed the basis of this seemingly wearable collection.
Incessantly the slogans came. A top embroidered with ‘unity in adversity’. A vest with ‘Nasty Woman’ strewn across the front whilst ‘Keep The Faith’ sat at the hip of a dress. The show ended on the song “We are Family”. Nothing went amiss.
But the lines are still blurred between altruism, business and style. We can argue as to whether fashion is sympathetic to society or using its vulnerabilities with clothes masquerading as idealism for financial gain or recognition. It can so easily become a cynical dilemma.
Regardless, what’s more desirable than a jersey-knit embroidered with empowerment? Vivienne Westwood has been doing so for years alongside campaigning for global issues. Describing her book Get a Life on her website, Westwood states that “you’ve got to get involved, speak out and take action.” Perhaps the fundamental core of why fashion needs to take such a stance on these issues.
Where art plays a part in integration, groups identify, unite and revolt against oppression.
Fashion may not see the end of the brazen logo, but it’s being pushed aside for something seemingly less self-obsessed and vital.