The Street: Fashion to Inspire Political Change

Paige Hosbein 2018 was the year that politics took over closets: people dressed to protest. Women wore black gowns to the Golden Globes to stand up to sexual harassment; students sported The Future is Female tees in the hallways at school; protesters wore pink, knit pussy hats on the streets. Politicized fashion was arguably the year’s hottest trend. Students often feel that they cannot make real change in the political sphere. Students see so much injustice in the news and learn about it in school, yet they often feel powerless. A common sentiment amongst youth is, “I’m just a kid, how can I solve the gender wage gap? How can I end world hunger? How can I honor those who were sexually abused and put an end to it?” Although younger generations expressing themselves through clothing will not solve all of the world’s problems, it is one easy way to raise awareness about a cause. Wearing a shirt that says “I am an Immigrant” and “All People Should Be Feminist” can add a perspective to conversations they otherwise wouldn’t be heard in. Fashion choices are visible, and visibility of marginalized voices is necessary for progress. Glancing at the words individuals wear may make one person change their mind about an issue, and collectively, make people more aware of injustice to, therefore, consciously try to combat it. [caption id="attachment_9488" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Maya Passman, 1/21/19[/caption] Junior Maya Passman says, “I feel like wearing political t-shirts holds a lot of power because you show people that you aren’t afraid to stand up for what you believe in. You can’t hide words on a t-shirt; everyone understands the statement, and I think it can ignite people to do the same. I do think that we often see wearing political items of clothing is as far as we can go, but going to marches and advocating in real life instead of just wearing clothing is also super important!” Sophomore Giselle Ayala noted, “When I see someone wearing a t-shirt promoting a cause, such as gender equality and love over hate, I’m happy because that person is wearing something they deeply care about and are raising awareness. Standing in solidarity is such an admirable trait in a person.” Latin’s Green Club is utilizing fashion to raise awareness for their cause, too. Senior Olivia Patinkin stated, “When discussing what we as individuals can be doing to reduce our carbon footprints, there seems to be a rotation of actions that come to mind: recycle more, take shorter showers, reconsider your diet. While these elements are extremely important, we often get swept up in this aspect of the movement and forget that there are alternate ways in which we may be contributing to the problem. Denim, for example, has a very negative environmental impact. According to, the average pair of jeans uses up to 2,000 gallons of water to produce –– that’s enough to fill 20 bathtubs. A great deal of denim is shipped from where it is originally produced to another country, where it is distressed by real people (who are often lacking proper ventilation) using sandpaper, sent back to the U.S., and then distributed around the states and nearby countries. The fuel used in this process, of course, has terrible pollutant qualities.” In response, Green Club hosted a denim upcycling event on January 23rd to raise awareness and provided students with the resources to repurpose their clothing –– to make your jeans last for as long as they can…while staying in style. Junior Giselle Ayala also mentioned, “Thrifting is so fun and environmentally-friendly since you’re essentially recycling old clothes. You can get lost in a thrift store forever and find something that is unique while making use of items already created.” Whether it is choosing the brand that donates to someone in need for every purchased product, or favoring the company that prioritizes employees’ benefits, being a conscious consumer is so critical. Before venturing to a store or shopping online, consider doing some research about the brand’s efforts regarding social and environmental issues. So, how will Forum readers utilize their next outfit to create positive change?]]>