Clothes have been a way for expressing oneself since forever. You wear the kind of clothing items that you want to project your personality with, you put on clothes that allow you to showcase your sense of humor, heck even your political and social allegiances. A big part in the “clothes-as-expression” is played by social, political and cultural movements that band together, people with similar interests, who stand out to each other via their clothing, or their appearances.
Clothing companies around the world have, for decades, capitalized on cultural movements and trends
They have managed to earn a buck from every single thing that gained even the slightest attention. In music, for instance, there is no genre, no matter how niche, brands have left untouched. In fact through designing ‘cool’ apparel companies have managed to make some sub-cultures mainstream. Case in point, the Punk movement in the 70s and its revivals in the years to follow.
Then there was the whole Grunge era, where they started selling lumberjack checkered long sleeves, just cause Eddie Vedder wore them. I mean how the hell is this supposed to be stylish?
In addition to music, these companies, T-Shirt ones, in particular, have also from time to time taken advantage of the latest political on goings. A prime example being Che Guevera T-Shirts that have been around the block for the longest time. Most people don’t even know who the guy was or what he stood for, yet they recognize his face.
Similarly, there were those “Hope” t-shirts with Obama’s face in that red and blue poster-like look
Then you had that whole ‘ Make America Great Again’ stuff last year with Trump. Aside from that, there have also had witty slogans on a political figure or incident. The most recent example being that ‘covefefe’ stuff. Yea they made t-shirts about that and a dozen more about all sorts of stuff.
Local clothing brands in Pakistan have also started to adopt this strategy and honestly it’s about time
I mean Pakistanis in some ways are the most politically aware people. It’s our favorite form of entertainment. Political talk shows is kinda like watching the latest episode of Game Of Thrones. So to have t-shirts, kurtas or whatever having politically motivated inscriptions makes sense. It’s kinda equivalent to purchasing merchandise for your favorite movie franchise. It sorta started with Imran Khan’s tabdeeli campaing during the elections in 2013. With Imran Khan being the political voice for the urban youth, T-shirts with cool imagery of his face started to prop up.
Soon after you had cool designer type kurtas, ’cause why the hell not?
Designer Maheen Kardar Ali, some four years ago, through her own label Karma released these MK Nation Kurta. It had Imran Khan’s face all over it in different colors, with a very Andy Warhol-esque pop art feel to it. Each kurta was priced around Rs. 4000.
Brands have taken things up a notch in recent months, releasing t-shirts with the latest political commentary
Especially since the whole Nawaz Sharif’s Panama debacle, such apparel has gained prominence. 5th Avenue in particular has come out with T-shirts that have all sorts of witty political banter. One had a Lion stuck in a cage . While this other one showed a Tsunami wave coming on top of a lion.They actually even had one of the most popular celebrities to endorse their clothes.
Aamir Liaquat is one celebrity who’s keen to wear his political allegiance on his clothes, proudly
In an episode of his infamous show Aisa Nahi Chaley Ga on Bol Television he trolled the ousted PM without actually saying a single word. The guy was seen sporting a T-shirt that is actually a dig at the Calibri scandal during the JIT hearings.
But not all is fun and games with these political t-shirts
One clothing brand also got carried away at one point. There was the ” I wont Gul-a-lie” t-shirt clearly a dig at Ayesha Gulalai who accused Imran Khan of sexually harassing her. The T-Shirt was seen as victim blaming by some and even gained some negative press.
All that aside, marketing based off political events by these clothing brands has just started. You could expect even crazier stuff with even crazier celebrities endorsing it soon. What with the elections just round the corner, things could get even more out of hand. And we’re here for it.