Sunday, May 19Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Fashion Moving Forward

The fashion industry is one of the most economically successful and most powerful industries worldwide. There is no doubt then as to why this industry is used to speak volumes when it comes to protesting issues that are dear to designers, model’s and customers hearts. One of the most influential designer’s in leading protest in fashion would definitely be Vivienne Westwood. A woman who advocates action to prevent climate change and most recently has led anti-fracking and anti-capitalist protests. 2014 saw more designer’s using fashion to gather media attention for certain issues and I am curious as to whether this is a practise that will continue into 2015.
In the style of Vivienne Westwood the A/W 2014 catwalk shows found designers incorporating messages into their own designs. Cara Delevigne opened Chanel’s A/W show at the Grand Palais leading models and Karl Lagerfeld in a feminist forward movement with models holding signs reading “He for She”, “Ladies First” and “Women’s Rights Are Alright”. Dries Van Noten’s collection was inspired by war and peace and in the finale of the catwalk show model’s staged a peaceful sit in to promote the brands values. The affordable high street brand Whistles has joined forces with the feminist movement by creating a range of clothing with the tag line ‘This is What a Feminist Looks Like’ with all the proceeds from the products going to The Fawcett Society. Various high profile names such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Emma Watson, Joseph Gordan-Levitt, Alexa Chung, Simon Pegg and even Ed Miliband have been spotted wearing the Whistles designs. Vivienne Westwood’s 2014 Red Label catwalk show also saw her pleading a last minute case for Scottish Independence. More recently she has been involved in the ‘Anonymous’ anti-capitalist movement with the likes of Russell Brand.
It appears that an increasing number of designers are using their power on the catwalk to inspire their audience and customers to create a change they want to see in the world. While to some people fashion may simply just mean buying clothes. I am excited to see the return of fashion being used for more than what it seems to entail. Movements such as these have not occurred in fashion with this much media attention for a long time and I am curious to see what effect, if any, fashion has on social policy. I am hoping that more designers follow in the footsteps of Westwood, Lagerfeld and Van Noten by the time the S/S 2015 shows are in full swing and they use their influence to make a real difference.