Fashion has always been known as an arena for challenging the status quo. This was more than apparent in 2019, when modest fashion finally entered the mainstream, influential figures deconstructed gender binaries, and conversations opened up about sustainability and ethics in the world of fast fashion.
As you’ll see in the following stories, fashion isn’t just for straight, thin, white people. Lovers of fashion come in all different shapes, from all different races, and all across the gender spectrum. What constitutes as fashion is no longer decided by the elite, and the diverse voices in fashion that emerged this past year prove that.
What makes Lookbook an integral part of The Tempest is that we have writers and editors who think critically about the ways in which politics, culture and activism intersect with fashion and beauty. As trends change with every coming season, one thing remains the same: the fight for POC, trans and fat people to be included and celebrated in the industry.
Our writers discussed and analyzed an endless variety of topics, from new and emerging trends, to the importance of brands catering to all their consumers, to cultural appropriation and the weird, sexist histories that permeate our current culture. We hope that you read these articles and leave feeling enlightened, informed and ready to take on 2020 with a fresh perspective.
Here are 20 of the best Lookbook stories from 2019:
Skincare has gone through many changes. Once a political, revolutionary act, it’s now become watered down by capitalism. In this piece, our former Managing Editor
Modest fashion really had its moment this year and hijabi influencer Yasmeena Rasheed is making sure everyone knows it.writes about the demeaning treatment of Muslim women in the fashion industry and how—despite doing all this work for free — Yasmeena doesn’t mind losing out on a check if it means that Muslim women can get the representation they need. Despite the disgraceful lack of pay, she’s worked hard to spread the message that modest fashion isn’t just for Muslim women.
Everyone is entitled to wear what makes them feel comfortable. That’s the beauty of fashion. It’s a personal decision we make every day, choosing how we’ll express ourselves in the world. Some people enjoy showing more skin than others, but most popular clothing retailers offer very few options for those who want to cover up. In this piece,breaks down the rise in interest in modest fashion and how covering up doesn’t mean sacrificing style.
Is it safe to say that 2019 was the year of modest fashion?writes about The Verona Collection and Macy’s collab bringing modest fashion into the mainstream. Everyone deserves to see themselves represented.
Most women have thought about the reason why their pockets are so damn small while men have so much space in theirs. For women’s clothing, pockets are regarded as nothing more than a useless decoration on your jeans. I mean, what can you realistically fit in there besides, like, a small crumpled up piece of paper?explores the history behind the pocket phenomenon, and – surprise! – it’s sexist.
In case you didn’t know, yes, thin privilege is real. Brands can pretend to be as “body-positive” as they like, but it doesn’t mean anything if they’re still only catering to a very thin consumer base.argues that you can’t truly be body-positive if you’re not making clothing for fat people. Thin people have unlimited clothing options, while for fat people, the number dwindles with each rising size. It’s high time that clothing brands cater to people of ALL sizes.
The Met Gala is arguably one of the biggest fashion events of the year. While we were all rightfully missing the queen of the Gala herself, Rihanna, this year’s theme had everyone scratching their heads. The theme was ‘camp’.wrote about what exactly camp is and how the trend — started by Black drag queens — has leaked into the mainstream.
Overcoming dark times can feel deeply empowering, especially if we’ve gone through the journey with people who care for us. Sometimes, along with that journey, those dark times leave scars. Whether they’re emotional or physical, these wounds tell a story that only we can choose to tell.wrote about physical scars and the anxiety over whether or not to reveal them, particularly in the summer when everyone is showing skin, and offers tips to ease your worried mind.
Most people’s introduction to cultural appropriation comes from braids. Braids aren’t relegated to Black culture, and in this articleshows us that braids go back thousands of years and across numerous cultures. But the problem lies in Black people who wear braids facing discrimination — being denied employment, suspended from school, etc — while white people are praised and emulated for wearing the same styles.
10. A look back on Victoria’s Secret’s controversial history in light of the annual fashion show’s cancellation
A big surprise for the fashion world this year was Victoria’s Secret canceling their lauded fashion show after 23 years. The news came just a year after the brand’s CEO made offensive comments about trans and fat bodies.wrote about the controversial history of the company and how this cancellation was actually a long time coming. Who needs them when we have Savage x Fenty?
Many of today’s most influential figures in the world of fashion are Black – Edward Enninful, the editor-in-chief for British Vogue, Virgil Abloh, artistic director for Louis Vuitton and founder and CEO of Off-White, and Rihanna, who made waves in fashion, beauty and lingerie this year, and became the first Black woman to join the luxury LVMH group. Black fashion has always been political, particularly in response to and in defiance of oppression and appropriation. In this article, Nasira Pratt takes us back in time to Black fashion’s origins.
This past year in particular has prompted many questions and conversations about fast fashion and its impact on workers and the environment. The rise in popularity of online retailers and increasingly quick turnaround time of fast fashion giants such as Zara and H&M has only served to intensify consumer culture. Alice Draper explores the seemingly inescapable clutches of capitalism and offers some tips on how best to avoid our consumerist urges.
Modest dressing’s worst enemy by far is the summer. It’s hard to find ways to cover up that won’t result in heightened irritability and discomfort at best, heatstroke at worst. Amrita Chakraborty offers some tips on how to stay cool and cute during the summer months.
Hair braiding salons run by West African women with years of experience in the art of braiding are a community of their own, writes Modupe Adio. Making the discomfort and boredom of sitting in a chair for hours on end slightly more bearable, these braiders have built an institution that has become an integral part of Black culture – but gentrification and rising scrutiny from government officials are putting these women’s very livelihoods at risk.
Clothing giant Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in September 2019, leaving many to question whether fast fashion was facing a reckoning of sorts. Attiya Latif writes about how the company’s fall does not signify the slow death of fast fashion but rather a reinterpretation of it. Fast fashion is experiencing a revamp via online retailers such as ASOS, whose affordable prices, quick delivery times and environmentally-aware advertising are more appealing than ever to consumers.
Colourism continues to be a huge issue in Desi communities – women with darker skin tones are considered less attractive than those with lighter skin, made fun of because of their skin colour, and have to endure constant suggestions and unsolicited advice on how to lighten their skin. Sahar Arshad writes about this particularly cruel side-effect of South-Asia’s colonial hangover, and you should definitely hand out copies to every aunty you know.
Alice Draper wrote this insightful piece about how fast fashion brands use slogans and ideals related to feminism for commercial gain while simultaneously exploiting workers and enforcing unethical and unsustainable production methods – actions that stand in direct opposition to the values of feminism. While highlighting the hypocrisy of these brands, she also recommends a number of smaller brands that uphold true feminist principles.
18. A lot of what’s wrong with Taylor Swift’s “You Need to Calm Down” music video has to do with clothing
In this analysis of Taylor Swift’s music video for her single “You Need to Calm Down”, Zoe Marquedant writes about how one of the aspects of her video that Swift got glaringly wrong was its representation of homophobia and bigoted individuals. In her video, Swift offers an over-simplified, stereotypical depiction of hatred and bigotry, which ultimately does more harm than good.
Hair loss in women remains something of a taboo subject, rarely ever discussed and almost never depicted in mainstream media and entertainment. Femininity is so inherently linked with thick, healthy hair, particularly in South Asian cultures, that experiencing hair loss can be an extremely painful and isolating experience. Amrita Chakraborty writes about why hair loss in women is treated as if it doesn’t exist, despite the statistic that a third of all women will experience hair loss during their lifetime.
And finally, a little something to help you out if one of your new year’s resolutions is to shop more sustainably. Attiya Latif offers a list of tips on how to achieve the wardrobe of your dreams through responsible, ethical means. Easily applicable and adaptable to any and all types of shoppers, let this list be one of the many steps you take this year to be kinder to our planet and its inhabitants.