By Abha Bhattarai // Washington Post, June 21 2018
Just as the controversy over her husband’s immigration policies had begun to cool off, first lady Melania Trump touched off a new backlash. As she boarded a plane for Texas to visit immigrant children who were separated from their families at the border, a message blared from her $39 Zara jacket: “I really don’t care, do u?”
The choice, her spokeswoman said, conveyed “no hidden message.”
But slogan T-shirts and other statement-bearing pieces have become clothing-as-lightning-rod in an era of political unrest, according to fashion psychologists and retail experts.
Runways and store shelves have been filled in recent years with T-shirts bearing several messages: “We should all be feminists” shirts at Dior, “I am an immigrant” at Prabal Gurung, “People are people” at Christian Siriano. Even President Trump’s red “Make America Great Again” hats have become a way for people to express their views. The controversial Zara jacket is from two years ago and doesn’t appear to be for sale anymore on Zara.com.
“Slogan T-shirts have often been a vehicle for communication, and they’ve come back in vogue in the last year or two with the political upheaval in many countries, including our own,” said Wendy Liebmann, chief executive of consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail. “Fashion is a very powerful billboard, and it’s become a way people feel comfortable communicating a message without carrying placards or holding protest signs.”
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