ELLE (UK) - - The Story -

hen I was 14, in the Nineties, I had a black crop top from Miss Sel­fridge that had the word ‘At­ti­tude’ em­bla­zoned across it in bright white ital­ics. (I also had one that said ‘Babe’ in glit­ter but let’s never speak of it). The irony is not lost on me that I was ac­tu­ally a mild-man­nered, in­tro­spec­tive teenager with ap­prox­i­mately zero at­ti­tude, but I’m thank­ful to my mum for buy­ing it and hu­mour­ing me.

Later that year, I ramped up my naive ven­ture into re­bel­lion by wear­ing a French Con­nec­tion ‘FCUK fash­ion’ T-shirt. I know what you’re think­ing: this kid was edgy. But it did feel trans­gres­sive to be so tan­ta­lis­ingly close to wear­ing a swear­word out in pub­lic. I don’t re­mem­ber that 1997 cam­paign send­ing out any par­tic­u­lar mes­sage but the sim­ple acro­nym, penned by an agency Creative Direc­tor Trevor Beat­tie, cap­tured the mood of a gen­er­a­tion of teens who wanted to ex­per­i­ment with an­ar­chy (and I en­joyed a wist­ful mo­ment of nos­tal­gia when the cam­paign came back for SS16). Ac­cord­ing to Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of French Con­nec­tion, Stephen Marks, that was the goal: ‘As we’re pay­ing homage to the Nineties, this was the right time to bring back the FCUK logo.’

Fash­ion has al­ways been about self-ex­pres­sion but, in this mo­ment of po­lit­i­cal up­heaval, so­cial un­rest and cease­less change, cap­tur­ing a mood isn’t enough. We want a mes­sage to scream and shout.

Slo­ga­neer­ing was all over the catwalk for AW16, from Alexan­der Wang to DKNY, and it’s mak­ing its pres­ence felt on the high street, too (River Is­land, Topshop, H&M). The hash­tags and captions have leapt from our smart­phones and on to our clothes. Just in case you didn’t al­ready know our po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion or where we stand on Justin Bieber (we’re look­ing at you, Vête­ments), we’re spell­ing it out for all the world to see. But it’s not all right­eous protest; fash­ion has a unique way of get­ting the mes­sage across, whether it be play­ful or poignant, while suc­cinctly cap­tur­ing a mo­ment, too.

The mo­ti­va­tion and sen­ti­ment be­hind fash­ion slo­gans have evolved over time and ac­cord­ing to the so­cial cli­mate. The Sev­en­ties and Eight­ies saw a rise in bold, provoca­tive ac­tivist mes­sag­ing un­der the radical eye of Bri­tish de­sign­ers such as Katharine Ham­nett and Vivienne West­wood. In the Sev­en­ties, West­wood and her then part­ner Mal­colm McLaren’s most

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