Genuine representation makes for good looks

In New York Fashion Week 2017, designers served looks and opinions on the same catwalk

More stories from Hillary Smith


Photo by submitted

Political statements were the new black at NYFW 2017. Pictured is a design by Public School, a clear nod and challenge to “Make America Great Again” hats.

There’s no statement like a fashion statement, and at New York Fashion Week 2017, designers let their clothing speak loud and clear.

From hot pink pins emblazoned with the words “Fashion stands with Planned Parenthood” to a silk dress delicately scripted with historic words of revolutionary women, the highest of high fashion were putting their hearts on their sleeves, making shows of clothing and activism.

Historically, the fashion industry has not been one to shy from making political statements. However, this year’s show had social issues popping up around every catwalk corner.

Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott showcased one of the perhaps more assertive lines; one of his designs was a t-shirt printed with the words “OUR VOICE IS THE ONLY THING THAT WILL PROTECT US” on the front while the phone numbers of every Senate representative was printed on the back, a clear call to action.

In a fall interview with Vogue, Scott said, “My country is in the toilet. And when my country is in the toilet, the world is in the toilet. We have to fight for everything we believe in. That’s the expression I wanted to use.”

Baseball hats by Public School served as another standout look; designed in the likeness of the red “Make America Great Again” caps made popular by President Donald Trump, Public School amended the original sentiment, labeling their hats with the slogan, “Make America New York.”

New York is one of the most diverse places in the United States and is home to the Statue of Liberty, the ultimate symbol of welcoming and inclusivity, as it beckons immigrants into the U.S. In mimicking the original design, Public School contradicted and challenged the implications attached to those hats.

These statements were plentiful in the show, making NYFW 2017 one for the books in its stand of defiance against current social and political happenings. Using art as a form of communication is not always successful due to a lack of understanding or accessibility to the average person, but designers this year found clear and fashionable ways to make their statements ring out.

Another notable feature of this year’s NYFW was a large step in the right direction of genuine diversity in the models; high fashion is often criticized for lacking in variety in the models chosen to feature the clothing. That mold was broken this year, with significantly more models representing a range of ethnicities, genders and backgrounds.

More plus-sized models were used this year, too, and styled in the same haute couture as everyone else, showing another step of inclusivity the industry seems to be taking.

The representation of diverse identities as well as assertive political and social statements are huge to see; having strong role models and high-powered people backing marginalized groups goes a long way, not only in influencing change, but in lifting the hearts of those it relates to. NYFW was on top this year, and hopefully continues moving in these directions in years and shows to come.