Is Fashion empowering wo-men?
Well, it all depends on what you call Fashion actually.
I was having this conversation with friends about the place fashion has or could
or should have (that’s a lot of possibilities, I know) in what we generally call
women’s empowerment. One of them asked: “Has fashion really anything to do
with empowering women, with their freedom, their ability to stand for
themselves, their body, their role in society and the way it evolves?
And…in a certain way, those questions – the way they were raised – found a
certain echo on me.
So yes, what is fashion actually? Does it represent the reflection and expression of
people in a specific context only? Fashion tells so much about people indeed, about
how they live, how they conceive life and society, how they perceive themselves,
their philosophy and beliefs, too. On the other hand, we also need to take all the
economic impact, the branding and manufacturing process of the fashion industry
into account. And there is so much to talk about, good and bad. When it is used to
impose a one and only canon of beauty, when it exploits poor workers (mainly
uneducated women) in unsafe factories, when it dictates what looks good and
what does not, when it causes ecological calamities, – that Fashion-, indeed, has
nothing to do with women’s empowerment nor any positive impacts on society.
Then, while we still witness total disasters from the fast Fashion industry, let’s
face it, we can on the reverse see the emergence of positive initiatives for a slow,
more ethical, inclusive and green fashion, empowering women and respecting the
environment, redefining thus the whole concept of Fashion.
That being said, I would like to focus on Fashion as a way of personal perception
and expression, and how it could contribute to a positive change and empower
Yes to Fashion for more inclusion and representation.
We were still all surprised by the latest fashion shows: covered, and more
colored models walking on the runways, bringing something totally new in the
catwalks from mainstream fashion. But it is not like diversity is something new, right? Have designers finally started to realize the importance and the beauty lying in diversity? We know how richer we all are in making Fashion more
representative of all the women, of all the people in fact.
However, we can see more and more ethical and modest wearing (faith based or not) brands selling not only pieces of fabrics to women and men feeling more
comfortable in them, but also ideas, building communities, bringing and
connecting people (especially women) together. We can also see badass
entrepreneurs and inspirational men and women, working together to bring in
such a creative way added value in the Fashion world and at the same time in our
Finally, we can see more and more mainstream brands, luxury brands
and fashion shows starting to include minorities, which is always positive in a
certain way, at least for the representation.
If the definition of Fashion is constantly evolving, it certainly means that its social
and economical correlations, in this case with women, will change too. Society has
still a lot to do to cope the negative impact of fast fashion, and for now Fashion
doesn’t empower all the women, that is a reality. But when Fashion brings new
colors to that monochromatic scene we used to watch before, when Fashion
contributes in shaping an inclusive society, when Fashion builds bridges, we can
be more optimistic and still hope for a better future, don’t we?
This article is an introduction to a series I’m working on called #WomenEmpowerWomen in Fashion. Stay tuned.