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Arts & Culture / Ali Horsfall

How Fashion Is Helping The Feminist Movement

Got something hard-hitting, thought-provoking or inspiring to say? Then the coolest way to express it right now is via your wardrobe. In case you haven’t noticed, sartorial sloganeering is the movement of the mo and from the runway to your Insta-grid, “thoughtless fashion” is being overtaken by fashion activism, in a bid to make a stand, challenge taboos and create social and political change.

Remember the fierce entrance by Dior’s first female creative director, Maria Grazia Chiuri? In her debut Spring/Summer 17 collection for the fashion house she sent models down the runway in “We Should All Be Feminists” slogan tees, (in tribute to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s headline-grabbing TEDx talk). Her simple statement t-shirts caused a stir in fashion circles, garnered a celeb following – RiRi, JLaw and Natalie Portman all wore one –  and then a huge waiting list. She continued her feminism reign in the Dior Spring/Summer 18 collection with more statement tees emblazoned with “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” – a direct reference to historian Linda Nochlin’s 1971 pioneering feminism essay. What followed from these runway salutes to feminism were a flood of kick-ass copy-cat tees on the high street featuring empowering messages such as “Femme Forever”, “The Future Is Female” and many more.

But bold statements and political stances worn for the world to see aren’t by any means a new trend, more a cultural signpost and the reflection of a current vibe in society, and they have consistently featured in fashion over the decades.

In the 70s, fashion activist Vivienne Westwood and partner Malcolm McLaren made political slogan t-shirts to sell in their shop, SEX. In the 80s, British designer Katharine Hamnett launched her oversized t-shirts with large block letter slogans. They featured statements such as “Choose Life,” “Use A Condom” and “Peace” and were worn by bands, including Wham! and Queen. Hamnett also went to meet PM Margaret Thatcher at Downing Street in a t-shirt with the political slogan “58% Don’t Want Pershing” – referencing the US pershing missiles being based in the UK. Her fashion comeback calls to “Cancel Brexit”.

Hamnett created her tees as a way of getting her views and opinions across saying, “If you want to get the message out there, you should print it in giant letters on a t-shirt.”

So as we head into London Fashion Week, it makes total sense that in an effort to empower, educate and inspire women to talk openly and honestly about menstruation, Pink Parcel have designed a range of limited edition t-shirts and sweatshirts, emblazoned with period positive slogans.

In partnership with organization Bloody Good Period, and designed by an empowering collective made up of British fashion designer Olivia Rubin, style influencer and activist Natalie Lee (Style Me Sunday), and former fashion editors Pandora Sykes and Dolly Alderton of the The High Low podcast, the range of t-shirts kick off a new campaign to smash period taboos. The “I’M ON” campaign aims to turn the phrase most commonly used to describe being on your period, on its head, challenging negative perceptions of periods and empowering women to talk about the time of the month more openly.

Turning the phrase into something positive, each t-shirt design starts with ‘I’M ON’ and finishes with a selection of powerful statements and quirky quips, aiming to make periods something to shout about, rather than shy away from – the tees will be available in the PP shop at the beginning of March.

And fashion activism doesn’t end with you just buying a cool tee and wearing a sassy message on your chest. By sharing sartorial statements on social feeds, a mantra has reach and gains weight – informing and inspiring others, giving a movement unstoppable momentum and activating *real* change. Something to think about when you’re getting dressed today, hey?

If you haven’t signed up to Pink Parcel yet, it’s time to start enjoying your period! Subscribe here and you’ll have everything you need (and want) sent directly to your door.

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