words / VICTORIA CHRISTIE
The message was written in bold black letters on a crisp white t-shirt. It was a simple statement that packed a punch: “We Should All Be Feminists.”
Models wearing a variety of feminist tees strutted down the runway during Christian Dior’s Spring 2017 Show in Paris. Another t-shirt read: “Dio(r)evolution”
This was Maria Grazia Chiuri’s debut collection at the helm of the fashion house. She made history as the first female creative director at Dior.
The tone of the September read-to-wear show was undeniably feminist.
The slogan “We Should All Be Feminists” first appeared in the mainstream in 2014 as the title of an essay written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author.
Most recently, designer Prabal Gurung joined the feminist tee trend for his Fall 2017 collection on Feb. 11 at New York Fashion Week. During the finale, all models wore black and white t-shirts with feminist statements. One even said, “Yes, We Should All Be Feminists,” crediting Adichie and Chiuri in brackets at the bottom. Gurung even wore a shirt himself that said, “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like.”
At Paris Couture Fashion Week at the end of January, countless fashion bloggers, editors and models sported the “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirts, as they ran from show to show.
The “We Should All Be Feminists” t-shirt trickled down from the runways of Paris Fashion Week to the streets of the Women’s March on Washington.
The tee was spotted on actress Natalie Portman at the march in Los Angeles on Jan. 21.
Other influencial figures, such as Rihanna, Jennifer Lawrence and Italian fashion blogger Chiara Ferragni, have been photographed sporting the t-shirt as well.
Other slogans like “This Pussy Grabs Back”, “The Future is Female” and “In Solidarity” dotted the streets of marches all over the world, uniting women against the political environment in the United States.
Feminism is an extremely complex, interconnecting concept that is not black and white. But for these t-shirts, black and white is enough.
This isn’t the only explicit statement of feminism that has been captured on the catwalk.
Katharine Hamnett is considered the unofficial pioneer of putting political statements on t-shirts. In the 1980s, she put big blocked letters on oversized shirts. Her most famous one stated, “Choose Life,” referring to women’s reproductive rights.
In 2014, Chanel staged a feminist protest during their Spring-Summer 2015 show during Paris Fashion Week. Women and men carried an array of red, white and blue signs reading, “History is Her Story”, “Boys Should Get Pregnant Too” and “Feminism Not Masochism,” to name a few.
Yes, fashion and feminism are a kick-ass combination.
Whether it be on the catwalk or the sidewalk, T-shirts with feminist slogans might not destroy the patriarchy, but it’s a damn good start.
High fashion can be categorized as materialistic and elitist, but in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, fashion’s feminist statements could not be more crucial.
As a medium, the power and influence fashion has is extraordinary. It might seem like an unattainable industry, left only for the rich and the elite, but it reflects the culture that we live in.
The role of feminism in fashion does have its critics.
Some argue that the fashion industry lacks diversity. It can be seen as a white feminists tool for activism, one that is not accessible to all. As the industry continues to diversify representations of gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, ability and socio-economic class, there is more room for a more interconnected, intersectional feminisms.
Is Dior’s feminist tee just this season’s trend? Quite possibility, but has the impact been significant? Absolutely.
To some, it might still just be words on a t-shirt, but at the end of the day, we should all be feminists.