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A Brief History of Protest Dress

January 24, 2017

 

This past Saturday, major cities across the world saw a sea of pink hats as women marched in unity to stand up against their fundamental human rights being denied by a corrupt, white male government. Any history book can tell you that protests do make a difference, and fighting back will bring change. And any fashion history book that wearing a message on your sleeve makes a lasting impact. Here are some examples of protesters and radical's armor: 

 

 

 

1911 Suffragettes

For the American movement, the tricolors purple, white, and green and, later originated with the Women's Social and Political Union in the British suffrage movement to symbolize loyalty, purity, and hope. Gold was frequently used on the movements “accessories” including buttons, pendants, and banners. Gold became a central theme during the Suffragette movement that when the 19th amendment was passed, the women of the NAWSA ordered a gold pen specially made for the historic signing ceremonies in the Senate.

 

 

1968 Black Panthers

Founders Bobby Seale and Huey P Newton decided on a uniform of blue shirts, black pants, black leather jackets and most iconically, black berets covering full afros. The sight of black men and women unapologetically sporting their afros, berets and leather jackets had a appealed to many black Americans, and it attracted many young black kids to want to join the party. “The panthers didn’t invent the idea that black is beautiful,” former member Jamal Joseph said in Stanley’s documentary. “One of the things that Panthers did was [prove] that urban black is beautiful.”

 

 

1984 Choose Life

In the mid 1980s, slogan tees--designed by Katherine Hamnett and made popular by the late Wham! Member George Michael—were created to raise awareness and spreading the word (whatever the word may be). Other slogans included WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW, PRESERVE THE RAINFORESTS, SAVE THE WORLD, STOP KILLING WHALES, and EDUCATION NOT MISSILES. The original T-shirts were sold with a percentage going to charity. Hamnett wore a "58% Don't Want Pershing" T-shirt when she met prime minister Margaret Thatcher at a Downing Street reception for London fashion week designers in 1984. The slogan referred to public opposition to the US Pershing missiles in the UK at the tail end of the cold war.

 

Early 1991 PETA

As part of its anti-fur initiative, celebrities and supermodels have posed naked for the PETA’s  "I'd Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur" campaign that launched in 1991. Thanks to celebrities like Holly Madison, Pink, Christy Turlington, Madonna and Khloe Kardashian, the “I’d Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur” campaign has aggressively and skillfully combined advertising technique and celebrity support to discredit the fur industry to the point where it is borderline socially unacceptable to wear fur coats.  

 

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