Streetwear special: 3 designers that've taken a political stand on the runways

Streetwear special: 3 designers that've taken a political stand on the runways

More than just words

Text: Andrea Sim

When typography isn't simply a tool for branding

Perhaps the most identifiable tenet of modern streetwear is the ubiquitous logo cum slogan, where unabashed branding is slapped across anything from shirts to jumpers, jackets and trousers. Try spotting street labels such as Supreme and Undefeated from a mile away, and don't be surprised that you can; the logos and signature scripts transform fans into walking, talking — albeit willing — billboards.

While the overt branding makes for covetable streetwear, it's easy to overlook the times where streetwear designers have attempted to take on weight of the world. For instance: Utilising graphics and slogans to voice out against political situations and human-effected tragedies. Tipping our hats to this rare breed of designers, here are three instances streetwear labels have proven fashion to be more than just stylistic identity.

1. In response to the Charlie Hebdo attack 

What: Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh fall 2015
Why: As the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris shook the world, many took to social media platforms to express their emotions, condolences and support. This in turn prompted designer Virgil Abloh to take a stand the best way he could — through clothing design.
How: Abloh's sentiments will always be immortalised in Off-White's fall 2015 collection as cautionary messaging such as 'War is not over!' and 'Dazed still confused' took the place of the brand's usual logo branding. 

2. On the political relationship between Russia and China

What: Gosha Rubchinskiy fall 2015
Why: The Russian designer who grew up in the era of post-Soviet dissolution frequently taps on his memories and experiences, making for culturally inflected streetwear collections. 
How: Fusing China and Russia's flag as one for fall 2015 — a witty jab at the Sino-Russian relationship — Rubchinskiy's collection titled 'Sport' is also an expression of his views on world politics. Translation: America, a little contention can't hurt.

On the political climate of the world

What: Walter Van Beirendonck fall 2016
Why: Known for his expressive streak, it's a rare instance if Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck chooses to keep mum on the runways. Previously using slogans and graphics to speak out on Charlie Hebdo as well as the over-prevalence of cameras in the world, fall 2016 touches on the raw emotion of white-hot anger. 
How: It seems like Van Beirendonck's resentment for the state the world is in has finally bubbled over: 'Woest' translates to fury, "because I'm really angry", the designer told

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