Every time a political issue comes up or gains attention in America, you see people exercising their rights and voice out their opinions in peaceful (and some not-so-peaceful) protests. You see people take to the streets and show their patriotism by wearing their political affiliation: Republican and Democrats. You see people walking around wearing American flag clothing, democrat shirts or perhaps even conservative shirts. But why are Americans obsessed with these political clothing and why are they popular?
Political shirts are easily available anywhere in America. These political shirts (democrat or conservative shirts) come in different styles and designs and often have thought-provoking quotations on them.
American’s fascination with expressing their freedom of expression is most pronounced during important holidays such as Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July, or even the weeks leading to national elections. But if you pay attention, you can observe people wearing these shirts all year round. These shirts may seem simple, and made of ordinary material, but they manage to both inspire and divide people. This leads you to wonder whether wearing democratic or conservative shirts can create social change.
Freedom of Expression
Clothing has always served as a person’s way to express themselves. You can tell a lot about a person with their taste in fashion, so it is not surprising that people use clothing to express their political beliefs and opinions as well. The recent wave of activist-inspired clothing not only shows the solidarity against the current political setting, but it is also a way for people with the same political beliefs to bond with each other. Whether it be shirts, tunics, or jackets, political clothing have messages that stand out as a visual marker for what the person wearing them believes in. This has the potential to be a powerful catalyst for change.
Political clothing isn’t limited to the runways alone—it can be found on a more common or grassroots level too. Many DIY artists and creative experts have also been creating and coming up with culturally appropriate and virally strong clothing, promoting their merchandise on online platforms such as Etsy, as a way to take a stand against issues such as prejudice, racism, fake news, and social injustice. Unlike large-scale fashion brands, which takes weeks to months to develop these apparel, independent designers can just easily release these clothing within a couple of days.
Catalyst for Change
Political clothing, such as democrat and conservative shirts, can serve as important conversation starters. You’re able to encourage and empower people to stand up for and speak up on issues that matter to them. Political slogans have been around for as long as anyone can remember, but they are more visible now that more and more people are starting to exercise their freedom of expression. The words and letters in our garments have power—they had power in the 18th century, and they have power even today. If you look into the French Revolution, colors were showed to express one’s support for various political factions. In the early 20th century, wearing white symbolized support for women’s suffrage, and today wearing pink has come to symbolize support for women’s rights.
It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that fashion apparel actually began to get political. This was during that time that silkscreen printing became popular. This technique made it easier for anyone to print customized shirts with text expressing their opinions during the Vietnam War protests. Nowadays, people use these shirts as a way to vent out their frustrations. Political clothing gives people a way to express their opinion and make their views known. It’s a way to add cohesion to different political groups and to show support for those who feel the same way as them.
Wearing political clothing like conservative shirts can be considered as a sartorial form of coming together. When you wear a shirt showing your political affiliations, you’re not only making your beliefs known, but you also identify yourself with a larger group of individuals who feel the same way as you do. It’s a great way to show someone that you’re on the same team.
Fashion and Politics: A Great Match
People wouldn’t normally associate fashion with political movements, but these two have long been intertwined as far as we are concerned. Fashion has always been a way for both men and women to express their social and political views. Modern political fashion trends may not be the same as those of centuries ago, but fashion continues to be one of the most effective and accessible way of expressing your beliefs and standing up for them.
When you look at any society around the world, you’ll discover that there are instances where politics have influenced its fashion. For example, in the 18th century, some Englishmen wore short, colorful suits with eccentric styles to oppose the more traditional Whigs. Even the type of fabric worn can be used to indicate the politics of international trade at certain points in history.
As technology has made it easier to disseminate new information, a new political climate has emerged—one that’s both confusing and divisive. People from all walks of life are free to broadcast their political opinions on social platforms that reach hundreds, to thousands, to millions of people. But social media activism has not replaced fashion’s role in politics. As a matter of fact, some trends in political fashion have garnered even more exposure on social media, allowing them to extend their reach to more people.
Expressing your views can be as simple as putting the right words, images or hashtags printed on a shirt or apparel. Political fashion, such as democrat and conservative shirts, do not have to be subtle—they can be bold, loud, fearless, and clear!
Besides t-shirts, bags and hats can also be used to express one’s political sentiment. Take Trump’s MAGA (Make America Great Again) cap, for example. Items like this allow one proudly and confidently express their belief system in a blunt and unapologetic manner.
Regardless of your political affiliation or belief, you have the right to use your clothes to express them. Fashion is more than just about matching colors and styles—it is a way to express who you are inside and sharing them to the world.