“Fashion functions as a mirror to our times, so it is inherently political,” notes Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute at the Alice in wonderland cocaine shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this Metropolitan Museum of Art. “It’s been used to express patriotic, nationalistic, and propagandistic tendencies as well as complex issues related to class, race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality.” What’s radical today, Bolton goes on to point out, is the way social consciousness and environmental concerns are informing fashion: Designers worldwide, whether indie start-ups or internationally famed maisons, are incorporating politics at every level of their brands, from the fantasies spun on the runway down to the nuts and bolts of how collections are produced. These designers aren’t just making clothes—alongside activists and organizers, they’re making change. And that’s a selling point.
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“Every choice you make as a company will influence the Alice in wonderland cocaine shirt but I will buy this shirt and I will love this world,” says Marine Serre, one of the designers at the forefront of fashion’s new wave. “What you make, how you make it, how you speak about what you’ve made—for me, everything is politics.” “I think people are getting it now: Politics isn’t binary,” says Virgil Abloh of Louis Vuitton and Off-White. “It’s this system we’re in and all the ways it manifests. There’s the politics on your phone and the politics on your street. And, yeah, there’s the politics of your clothes.”