As we delve deeper into the awards season, there are increasingly more calls for change by women in Hollywood. From the Golden Globes to the SAG Awards that saw only women speak, there’s no denying the recent actions of Hollywood women, specifically the collective wearing of black, has raised much needed awareness and continued the public dialogue around gender inequality and sexual harassment.
Yet, it leaves many questioning whether those involved could go further. Using fashion to deliver a message is not a new thing. But you have to be clear what message you’re sharing.
Image courtesy: Jordan Strauss/INVL|Valerie Macon, AFP Via Getty Images
In lieu of the usual “who are you wearing?”, journalist questions were more centred around why an actress had chosen to wear black. This line of questioning missed something rather relevant. If concerned with exploitation and gender inequalities, shouldn’t we be asking more pertinent questions like who made their outfit? How was it made? Does feminism exist in the fashion production chain? Shouldn’t the point of this movement be to create awareness for those who don’t have the same platform to speak their truth, particularly when using fashion as a vehicle for change?
As Tahirah Hairston wrote for Man Repeller: “I don’t understand why fashion, an industry that is having a similar reckoning, was extricated from the conversation when it could have been used to advance it.” She suggested actresses should “wear only women designers or brands that align with your initiative, use fashion to speak louder.” We couldn’t agree more.
And following this past weekend’s Women’s March, which saw women and men march together around the world to fight for women’s rights, it led us to recall a video released last year in honour of International Women’s Day and “A Day Without a Woman.”
W Magazine released a video featuring dozens of the most recognisable faces in fashion including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin, Donna Karan, Sienna Miller and Winnie Harlow, delivering a powerful message about the importance of women’s roles in the world. Filmed during Paris Fashion Week, models, musicians, editors and designers stood against a plain white backdrop and repeated these four simple messages in different languages, voices and styles: “I am a woman”, “Please respect yourself, respect women”, “Women’s rights, are human rights”, “Men and women have to fight together.”
Indeed, “Women’s rights, are human rights” and with approximately 80% of the world’s garment workers being women, it’s profoundly relevant to the fashion industry. Many of which don’t have a voice, so let’s speak for them.