Firstly, the world of fashion is invaluable as a contributor to the ‘establishment of the political, social, and economic rights of the female sex’. The career opportunities generated for women by the industry are incomparable; editors, stylists, designers, writers, merchandisers, management, the career choices are endless. Of Conde Nast’s magazines Allure, Lucky, Vanity Fair, WWD and Vogue, all five ‘have a female editor-in-chief and majority female editorial team’, highlighting how fashion promotes the female boss.
As well as creating job opportunities, the industry and the attention it gets can be used as a political platform for women. For example, Stella McCartney used her world wide brand to establish the Kering Corporate foundation which aims to tackle issues surrounding ‘violence against women and women’s empowerment’.
Secondly, fashion as a mode of personal adornment, is a form of self-expression. Women use what they wear to show us how they feel, to communicate their personality and to state quite clearly that they have a choice. Previously, fashion may have been considered restrictive (when wearing trousers was for men only), however, progression within society and the industry means that anything goes (you only need to take a look at the latest designs heading down the runway at NYFW this week to recognise that) regardless of your sex! Fashion gives women the freedom to choose how they appear to the rest of the world.
Nonetheless, people often suggest that fashion, as a focus on how our bodies are presented, feeds a patriarchal society, as women’s bodies are sexualised and they dress to please their male counter parts. For me, this couldn’t be further from the truth; when I go out I wear something because it makes me feel confident, sexy and empowered and because I like how I look, not because some guy at the bar thinks I look good. Remember Rihanna parading around in THAT Adam Selman dress at the CFDA awards? The press considered it to be ‘all too much ’but Rihanna couldn’t care less as she asked a disapproving reporter ‘Do my tits bother you?’ And why should they bother her? The dress was Rihanna, doing what she wants. She perfectly used fashion to demonstrate herself – autonomy.
These are just a few of the reasons why I believe fashion is a tool that can be used by feminists to promote the equality of the sexes and to give women greater political, social and economic rights. What is clear is that while fashion is focused on women that focus can be used to our advantage.