That fashion month coincided with the outbreak of war was a dissonant and goulish turn of events. As the usual crush of celebrity-spotting teenagers are replaced by throngs of protestors outside show venues, brands have expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people through show notes, Instagram posts, and flower brooches. Meanwhile, La Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode has encouraged those attending Paris Fashion Week to look on the shows “with solemnity and in reflection of these dark hours.”
Fashion is often one of the first sectors to face scrutiny at times of crisis, shamed for its frivolous and ever changing point of view, but how far should we expect designers to wade into war? The race to comment on current affairs can be a narcissistic and damaging project, especially when the vast majority of individuals working in the industry have no idea how to respond. But, when fashion is worth a trillion dollars to the global economy, there is strength in numbers. The London-based fashion publication, 1Granary is calling on members of the industry, from stylists and photographers, to models and creative directors, editors and graphic designers, to come together and sign an open letter to express solidarity with Ukraine and condemn Russia’s invasion.
“Fashion has power,” the letter reads. “In times of crisis, it’s easy to dismiss that power, to call it superfluous, tone-deaf, hypocritical, or non-essential. But our supply chains connect countries across the globe, our media reach masses of followers everywhere, and our shared language of creativity is universal. Those tools can always improve the lives of people around us – whether it’s on a large scale or an intimate one. Wherever you are today, don’t turn your back, don’t close your eyes.” The correspondence, which will be sent to members of parliament across Europe, calls for “our governments to continue enforcing strong sanctions and to contribute aid so freedom, democracy, and sovereignty can be assured in Ukraine.”
A full list of signatories will be displayed on 1Granary’s website and you can add your signature here. “We ask the fashion community and influential fashion houses, in particular, to not be silent, to use their platforms and offer hands-on help,” the publication stresses, “the violence of the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine goes against everything we stand for. This war brings nothing but destruction, suffering, and grief.”