Fashion: From art to politics

Along globalisation and the increased reach and content of the great internet, a lot of causes have gained traction and supporters around the globe. Individuals are, generally, becoming more and more educated and formulating their own opinions of how their world should be and so, are more inclined to support and surround themselves with like minded people, brands and activities. The great fashion houses of Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Louis Vuitton and more have always held a certain clear public image, steering away from politics and instead focusing on doing it for the art.  As of recent times though, with newer brands gaining more and more buyers and supporters, we’ve seen some drastic changes in the big houses, like Gucci allowing Michele Alesandro to completely change what they stoof for with his daring, eclectic creations.

However, the old timers seem to have also realised that, in order to attract more of the next generation, they need to show that they share more than just similar fashion tastes. Prabal Gurung has introduced a line of t-shirts with clear feminist statements and other brands like Balmain, Yeezy, Opening Ceremony, Tome and more are presenting a more inclusive model casting for both race and size, a move that everyone has definitely noticed and (mostly) applauded them for.

Unfortunately though, art and politics will never be a true match mae in heaven. After all art is fluid; subject to individual interpretation and experience. Cultural identity and the degree of tolerance to it being molded into something new, will never be the same for everyone. Marc Jacobs came under fire last year for walking his (predominantly white) models down the catwalk sporting colourful dreads with very few black models to pay homage to where dreads originated from. He apologised and insisted that he never intended to be discriminating but acknowledged that it was an insensitive move. After all black men and women are still being told that hairstyles specifically made for their hair types are inappropriate for the workplace. Hell, some are being told their natural hair altogether is inappropriate!

Whether this was an honest, ignorant mistake on Jacobs’ part or not, it goes to show that brands are allowed less and less wiggle room when it comes to their casting, campaigns and overall branding. Even those who haven’t placed themselves somewhere on the political spectrum will still be placed by their potential buyers and hence, will be judged for it.

But art is still art, I am fairly certain there is no culture in the world that is still ‘pure’ and uninfluenced by some outside for or even other cultures. Culture is a fluid thing, as is art but, in this day and age, an artist should respect and acknowledge their muses and, in turn, their audiences should respect their creative vision.