Fashion has often reflected and showcased pertinent political and societal issues of the time, be it through protest, catwalk or front cover on the globe's most famed magazines. The growth of social media and emerging, consciously minded brands have kept political messages at the forefront of products and their advertising. But how often do we consider the significance of fashion on policy as opposed to solely being a political messenger?
In the UK and the US predominantly we're becoming accustomed to seeing political slogan t-shirts confronting racial, gender and cultural inequalities and current affairs. By no means do I think this tone of communication is becoming trivial or worthless, but I do think it's clear that the more we see something, the less shocking, less impacting and more commonplace it becomes.
I think it's important for fashion to make these statements. If you have a platform and don't use it to bring about change or state opinion it is a waste (in my opinion). There will always be a place for 'just because' fashion but, more importantly, the industry could be far more influencial than some may think.
The fashion industry in politics is alarmingly underestimated.
The UK fashion industry alone employs over 800,000 of the countries workers bringing in over £28billion each year. Fashion Roundtable states that 'if fashion was a nation state, it would rank as the seventh richest global economy'. That's a lot of voices, a lot of money and should have a lot more in terms of political sway and consideration.
To put some of those statistics into context: the music industry contributed £4.4billion to the UK economy in 2016 (UK Music), the sport industry's worth sits at an estimated £20billion (The Telegraph) and, to me most inconceivable, the advertising industry's worth to the UK economy is £18billion (The Drum) according to most recently published reports. That's a £10billion difference. Ten. Billion. Pounds.
Yet how often do we see these facts and figures play against those of the fashion industry's when it comes to discussion in parliament?
What I found so absurd was how challenging it was to find those statistics. How difficult it is to get a clear and definitive answer on what is essentially 'our' money, or at least our economy. So much is hidden or unspoken and so there's little wonder so few of us know about the impact of various industries, notably fashion, nationwide and globally.
How Fashion Roundtable is ready to change the face of the industry
But this is where Fashion Roundtable is coming to, for hope of a better phrase, 'shake that shit off of the industry's shoe' by not only making statistics, facts and policies accessible, but also to change those policies to account for a hugely contributing industry in the UK market that is currently under-accounted for. And I think what's so special about Fashion Roundtable is that they comprehend further than just financial gain for our economy.
There is a true admiration of the fashion industry in the UK. From The Clothes Show Live, French Connection and ASOS to Alexander McQueen, London Fashion Week and Tatler we are quintessential lovers of hats, shoes and every fashion item in between. Fashion Roundtable recognise and cherish this. That's why currently they're sticking their neck's out to make a rightful 'fuss' with regards to Brexit.
How does fashion come into Brexit (BORING)?
It's tiring. The conversations, debates, arguments, whatever you'd call them, over Brexit are slowly but surely dragging us all down. That's why Fashion Roundtable has been important for me to follow. It's taken something that confused, bored and annoyed me and made it something I'd even say I was passionate about by reintroducing Brexit to me through fashion scenarios, insights and perspective.
Brexit conversations value other industries. Industries with less money, employment accountability and trade relationships! And, not to be belittled, industries with less dedication, commitment and love.
I can't pretent to be a Brexit expert, a Brexpert, because I often find the whole situation far too convulated a notion to fathom, but also because I don't have enough interest in every aspect of every argument. Frankly I think that's where too many Brexperts go wrong. People claim to know everything about everything and in such a complex marketplace of opinions, facts are starting to dilute.
I look to Fashion Roundtable to inform a subsection of my political viewpoint because they cut the bullshit and say things that interest me enough to try and fully understand.
In a complex time where you can't possibly 'know-it-all', I think following the interests of your passions and wider societal benefit is a great foundation to start forming validated opinions.
Coming full circle, I think it's great we have the freedom to express political opinions through fashion. I love that. It's become imperative. But have we potentially reached a time where we need to look further than how the slogan on the t-shirt looks and more at what the message on the t-shirt means?
Fashion X Politics: