Fashion Dialogue: Fashion Statement or Political Mistake?

I'm excited to introduce a new series of posts called "Fashion Dialogue"! Our bloggers will give their two cents on certain topics that we find interesting or controversial, and we'll share them here on the blog to get you all updated and thinking about happenings in the fashion world. Please feel free to comment your thoughts and opinions below, on our Facebook, or by email at !

Fast fashion brands such as Forever21, Urban Outfitters, and Zara have seen a great increase in popularity the past few years. Their clothing and accessories closely follow runway trends, essentially making it affordable for the middle and lower class to look like they just stepped out of Barney's or Vogue. These companies market to such a wide range of fashion styles, economic classes, and age groups (ages 5 years and up, basically) that they are able to put almost any sort of item on the market and expect to make sales. Naturally, there is bound to be at least one clothing article that is offensive to one person, but considered fashionable to another. Again, I think that fashion is a concept unique to each individual and I firmly believe that we should respect each other and all of our tastes. 

But let us consider, say, a denim jacket with a confederate flag printed on it. Vintage, of course. Or the popular grunge label Boy London and its brand logo that is a derivation of a Nazi symbol. There has never been any full blown protest or outrage against these items to prevent them from being sold worldwide and pulled off shelves. So what's the limit to what companies can sell? What about these items?

A sweater from Urban Outfitters in the vintage section that looks like it was taken from the scene of the Kent State shooting. (It was quickly sold to someone and taken off the website afterwards.) 

This kid's 'Western' style sweater from Zara. 

Is UO taking a stance on eating disorders with this shirt?

These three items were released within the past year or so, and immediately made the news in critical light. Here's what our bloggers have to say about the situations:

Ali Pinero: American apparel is another brand with its fair share of controversial designs/ads.  

Me: It makes me pretty sad that a big name brand like Zara somehow completely overlooked the fact that their shirt looked anything like what the Jewish prisoners would wear... I mean, all of these people had to have had a decent education before even entering the industry, and I'm pretty sure the Holocaust is never overlooked. 

As for UO, it feels like they have no respect at all for tragedies, as with the Kent State sweater, or people with depression or eating disorders. Like Ali mentioned, the same goes for American Apparel and its disregard for people with body image issues. (Although the entire body image thing can be set aside for a whole new dialogue.) 
I really like Zara, and I do happen to shop from UO sometimes, so these items make me really conflicted when I see something I like from them..

Anita Kapyur: "My opinion- sometimes designers cross lines to make a fashion statement and that is not ok. It's socially, politically, and culturally rude, insensitive, ignorant, and infuriating. Fashion should celebrate style and uniqueness and even take risks but there are certain limits that should not be crossed out of respect."

Mary Anderson: " Not only designers, but artists in general should focus on ways to create an impact or move their audiences (or consumers) without offending people. If you can't be creative without being offensive, then I personally think designers/artists haven't matured yet. 

What are some other examples of problematic clothing items? Accessories? Give us your feedback here or on Facebook, or through email if you'd like! We'll post a few standout comments in our next Fashion Dialogue post! 


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