Image source: Unsplash / Flaunter
Almost all of my fashion professors in graduate school taught according to the same motto: fashion is an extension of who we are. This mindset conveys the idea that clothing is the outward expression of what you feel, value, and believe. This year celebrities embody this ideal in a very cool and powerful way. Superstars use their platforms and voices and make fashionable statements that speak out against racism, encourage voting and support local companies.
Regina King and Sterling K. Brown both wore Breonna Taylor t-shirts for the Emmys in September. Jessica Alba, Amy Schumer, and a host of other A-list celebrities have seen sportswear in support of black life and voting rights. Lizzo wore a Christian Siriano "Vote" dress for the Billboard Awards, Gigi Hadid wore a Vote t-shirt after pregnancy, and Hailey Bieber wore a "Voting Is Hot" t-shirt. These are just some of the celebrities who want to inspire fans to follow in their footsteps.
It almost seems like in 2020 if you don't lead with messages of social justice you will be considered deaf and canceled immediately. We saw it this summer as megabrands and organizations – fashion specifically – withdrew inward as they devised strategies to combat their now publicly known racist blind spots. On the other hand, brands with more authentic and transparent diversity initiatives received more support and praise for appreciating all life and rights. The same goes for celebrities: when I see celebrities in clothing that compliments my political and social views, I get excited and eager to buy the brands that wear them.
2020 has proven that it matters what you wear.
In a year of increased virtual connections, 2020 has proven that it matters what you wear. Behind the scenes of these famous celebrities are the stylists who act as co-workers and friends. As a former would-be stylist, I've pondered the role that celebrity stylists play in the political and social climate. This year has been full of protests in support of black lives and LGBTQ + rights, as well as police brutality, climate change and the president. I thought, this year and possibly beyond, could celebrity stylists be given a greater responsibility not only to style their clients but also to use clothing to delve into important topics? Could fashion actually help change the world we live in?
To find out more, I interviewed celebrity stylists Micaela Erlanger, Britt Theodora, and Salvador Perez along with Red Carpet Green Dress CEO Samata for an insight into the importance of statement dressing in 2020 and beyond. Scroll through to learn what changes they have seen and what they think is necessary to be a successful stylist in today's world.
You have to support your claims
"Everyone can choose a party dress," Erlanger, stylist for Amal Clooney, Blake Lively, Lupita Nyong & # 39; o and many others told me. "To be a stylist, you really have to be a storyteller." All three stylists I spoke to agreed that there is so much more going into their work than choosing something pretty to wear.
"To be a stylist, you really have to be a storyteller."
Erlanger has been fortunate to have customers who have a deep understanding of the world's problems. She's happy to be doing the backend research to make sure the look she designed, whether sustainable, ethical, or owned by POC, is exactly what she said it was. "The brand may have sustainable or ethical practices at one end, but maybe their packaging is not sustainable or their carbon footprint is huge," she said. Erlanger prides itself on the fact that the research is knowledgeable not only for themselves, but also for their customers and ultimately for their fans: "I am a stylist and market editor. My job is to research brands and discover new things that can suit my clients, and as a result, I am asking these questions now. "
Image Source: Andrew Gombert / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
I remember the 2018 Golden Globes when celebrities dressed in black in support of Time & # 39; s Up and I believe that fashion has always been political. Stylists have used the red carpet and other lively events to show the world who the celebrity is – what they represent and what causes they support. In other words, their appearance can be a visual symbol of their frustration. But it's not always that clear.
Theodora works with aspiring actors who have a great deal of enthusiasm for wearing branded and black-owned small business clothing and reaches out to them for approval and endorsement. "Customers will send me a brand on Instagram saying how much they'd like to work with them," she said of the power of social media. "But sometimes it's brands that aren't sustainable or have no ethics. As a stylist, it's my responsibility to share that knowledge with my clients to make sure they're not misrepresented."
You have to take care of underrepresented groups
Prominent stylists have the task of adjusting the political and social attitudes of customers. "People are watching; you have to use your influence right," said Perez, costume designer and stylist at Mindy Kaling, as he said the lack of events cannot overshadow other areas of visibility like Instagram.
To ensure that her customers are well represented and use their influence forever, Theodora "spent hours and hours with COVID looking for ethical brands, black-owned brands and other niche areas that aren't always as well known and advertised". She saw this intense research as just another part of her job, and looked forward to her client's fans learning about new brands and concerns that delve into accurate representation and ethical fashion.
While consumers are increasingly keen to end systemic racism and heal the planet one by one, Erlanger would like to point out that power dressing – or dressing your way – did not start in 2020. "This is not new. I think the difference this year is that there is greater awareness," she told POPSUGAR. Everywhere on Instagram and on social media, more and more people are spreading the message of equality, gender rights and hopeful election results. "The message is loud. I think, if anything, it means that we as stylists are doing our job. Our work is seen and heard, and that's incredible."
You mustn't treat sustainability as a trend
Fashion is the world's second largest polluter after oil, and the celebrity stylists we spoke to are doing everything in their power to draw attention to local and ethical purchases, with sustainability at the fore. "I make sure that we have sustainably produced goods, local companies and handicrafts on all of our fittings, regardless of whether it is jewelry, shoes or ready-made goods," Erlanger assured me.
Image Source: Red Carpet Green Dress / Brandon Hickman
"Sustainability is so many things: it's about looking at the label, asking who made the clothes, choosing a natural material over a synthetic alternative (if you can afford it), reusing your clothes more, to hold them longer and appreciate the value of the items you already have, "Samata told me. Celebrity stylists have the authority to promote sustainable brands to the public and make them attractive enough for mainstream audiences to reach.
Celebrity stylists have the authority to promote sustainable brands to the public and make them attractive enough for mainstream audiences to reach.
As global citizens, stylists have a personal obligation to do their part to illuminate problems and dress their clients accordingly. I don't think power dressing will ever be a thing of the past and will always play an important role in a celebrity stylist's career. Americans have had eight months to discuss (or re-address) what is important to them in terms of racism, climate change and who they want to rule our country, and I am optimistic that their values will not follow suit the pandemic will fluctuate. To speak to these people and fans, celebrity stylists working in 2020 and beyond will thrive if they put extra emphasis on researching brands and products, giving voice to the voiceless, and consumers continue to love to inspire more ethical shopping.