The Impact of Fashion on Politics and Culture

When you wear a shirt with the words “Black Lives Matter,” what does it mean about you? When you don khaki pants and a white polo shirt, is it because you’re a Ku Klux Klan member? Do you have neo-Nazi ideologies?

In the past years, the line between politics and fashion has blurred. Where there was no connection before, now fashion is intricately connected with political views and social issues.

Models, celebrities, influencers, and political figures can wear a silicone bracelet bearing the name of the cause they’re standing up for. They attach pink ribbons on their dresses and suits to show their support for breast cancer awareness month. They wear a black armband as a sign of protest for social inequality.

People from all over the world can wear shirts bearing statements for different causes: #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, #icebucketchallenge, #yesallwomen, #bringbackourgirls, and #lovewins.

At times, these phrases have been divisive. Many times, they resulted in actual change. For the Ice Bucket Challenge movement, for example, people were made aware of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The idea behind the challenge is that it would simulate the experience of muscle stiffness that people with ALS feel. The movement raised more than $200 million, and videos were viewed at least 400 million times online.

Everyday Fashion to Express Political Beliefs

No longer can people stand idly as their rights are being trumped upon. People started wearing shirts with socio-political hashtags stamped on them. They believe that the avenue to real change is to stand up for these causes. These fashion statements are not the dress code of politicians. The ones wearing these statement shirts, dresses, and accessories are ordinary people. They come from all walks of life but are united by their commitment to certain advocacies.

The impact of fashion on political and social issues doesn’t only happen by wearing statement shirts. Brands could also be boycotted. A consumer survey found out that brands can be embraced or boycotted based on their political and social views. About 57% of consumers are willing to boycott a brand that doesn’t share their views.

The Era of Easy Outrage

So when do brands need to make a stand so their consumers won’t decide to boycott them or wear anti-brand statements? Some firms have actually experienced a massive slump in their subscriptions and sales because of activities that their clients deem to be irresponsible and ill-advised. So should brands now take a stand every time there’s a cause being fought for on the internet and the streets?

Taking a stand for moral and financial gain is the key to success under any circumstances. But that’s easier said than done. Experts said that CEOs should consider who they are, what they believe in, who their stakeholders are, and what those stakeholders believe in before releasing a statement. Companies should also consider how their employees will feel about their stand.

So before wearing that suit to work, ask yourself this: what does this tell people about my values and beliefs? It can be exhausting, yes, but standing for what you believe in-whether the majority agrees with you or not-is a powerful movement on its own. Your support and boycott of brands and even celebrities reflect your character.

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