Virtue x The Establishment Has Fallen
T-shirt and sneaker designs
Artefacts designed for the RMIT University Master of Communication Design exhibition Virtue—Communication design, commerce and consumption: selling protest to the people
Proposing fashion as political action, the emergence of the political slogan T-shirt on the runways of luxury fashion houses and high-end labels has elevated the subversive to this season’s new black. Though insisting the critical or progressive content of such statement apparel raises awareness, translating into increased agency and inciting action in the consumer, such products ultimately demand nothing of their buyer except their money.
Examining the value and meaning of the luxury-brand political T-shirt and questioning its radical potential, the Virtue x The Establishment Has Fallen collab capsule collection functions as an all-purpose, protest-ready provocation and generic critique of entrenched and elite power structures. Appropriating the language of opposition and protest, the limited edition collaborative T-shirt and sneaker collection present politically loaded language decoupled from the context of a particular social issue or political movement. As luxury artefacts of the rarefied world of high-end fashion—far from a democratic forum open to all—such messages are defused and neutralised, becoming empty critiques and vacuous calls to action, signifying nothing more than the commercial exploitation of a new wave of social consciousness and political awareness, where dissent has been commodified and proved extremely profitable.
Photography by Dennis Grauel
Model: Tianxiao She