Expression, homologation and repression: what fashion do you want?

Oktober 25, 2023

fashion and rights of Iranian women

Today is World Human Rights Day, we celebrate the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. Re-reading that declaration today helps us to rethink how far it has come but also how many human rights are still trampled on daily: for example article 19 reads “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression including the right not to be harassed for his or her opinion and to seek, receive and disseminate information and ideas by any means and without regard to frontiers” .

The Fashion Industry should be particularly sensitive to the issue of freedom of expression and opinion because the clothes we wear are above all powerful outward signals, signals that project the image we wish to give and with which we identify. Clothes and accessories 'tell' our personality and can be tools for personal expression but also tools for cultural homologation. Fashion provides a framework in which each of us can simultaneously express ourselves and replicate our connection to the community.

In some societies, central control proposes, imposes reference models: fashion companies can adapt to the proposed models or vice versa take on a different role, in turn proposing new perspectives from which to see the world. As Alessandro Michele masterfully said, the task of fashion is "to show fields of possibility, suggest clues and openings, cultivate promises of beauty, offer testimonies and prophecies, make every form of diversity sacred, nurture an indispensable capacity for self-determination".

The way in which a fashion brand proposes forms of beauty and the very way in which we dress is therefore, on closer inspection, a political act: fashion is not only a mirror of society and a way to interpret society and its evolutions. Fashion itself can be an active part of the changes, a function that fashion brands often prefer not to see or trivialize for fear of having economic repercussions. Fashion therefore, from a space of subjective and plural expression, risks becoming a place of homologation.

In these days in which disheartening news from Iran is chasing each other (today we read that the security forces shoot shotgun pellets in the faces of women demonstrating) we join them and we too shout forcefully: woman, life, freedom.