With this Press Fold issue on Resistance, we show a series of critiques of and propositions on resistance. Many fashion houses and labels have been incorporating concepts of ‘protest’ and ‘resistance’ in their clothing and collections over the years: from the protest T-shirts created by Vivienne Westwood and Katharine Hamnett in the 1970s and 1980s to the Chanel Spring/Summer 2015 show, featuring ‘traditional’ models (skinny and mainly white) carrying protest signs emblazoned with texts such as “Ladies First”, “Women’s Rights Are More Than Alright”, and “History Is Her Story” while wearing thousand-euro outfits, and the Dior Fall/Winter 2018 show which attempted to channel the resistance culture amongst students of the 1960s to advocate for women's equality. However, considering fashion’s entanglement with capitalism, we must wonder: how seriously should we take these statements? Rather than a genuine attempt at protest and resistance, the examples mentioned present a palatable and aestheticized version of the action, which allows the consumer to buy into a narrative of activism, rather than actually doing something concrete.
People have been adapting their clothing styles to show signs of protest and resistance for many years without having to buy (into) the fashion industry’s notion of it. From the suffragettes’ white dresses in the early 1900s and the Indian Khadi movement in the 1920s to the black berets of the Black Panthers in the 1960s, from the pink pussy hats of the 2017 Women’s March and #metoo movement to the green bandana of the pro-choice movement in Argentina in 2018, and the COVID facemasks with “I Can’t Breathe” written on them of the 2020 BLM protests: clothing has enabled wearers to show their political affiliations and solidarity with people and movements through visual signs and sign systems. But often, co-option by the fashion industry looms. Missoni created an expensive version of the pink pussy hat for their Fall/Winter 2017 collection, and the Black Panthers black beret appeared on Dior’s catwalk that same season.
This Press Fold issue on Resistance presents conversations, propositions and imaginations of fashion and resistance outside of fashion’s industrial context. For protest and resistance to become effective, it depends on community to generate, support and further it: with this issue we think further on these ideas of protest, activism and resistance in and around fashion, and not only in terms of clothing, and how it is portrayed in (fashion) imagery, but also in terms of how fashion is structured and organized: is fashion only able to thrive within a capitalist structure, or are there other possibilities as well? What ideas, initiatives and structures can be developed for fashion to become inclusive and generous to all participants? What needs to be resisted and what needs to be embraced? In that sense this issue of Press Fold, as well as the previous issues, is a world-building exercise, and wants to show what we can do without, and what we need to move fashion towards becoming a generous to all participants involved?