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Making a statement

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I’ve been in the industry for long enough that it shouldn’t, but I can still be surprised by the power of clothing and accessories to attract attention and provoke debate. Michelle Obama, however, never forgets.

After eight years in the White House and many more under the global spotlight, the former First Lady knows very well how everything a woman in her position wears is analysed and over-analysed. This week, at the opening of the online Democratic convention, a simple gold necklace bearing the legend V-O-T-E underlined the importance of the upcoming US election.

In a visual world, we take our cues from what we see and, right now, meaningful messages strike home. I’m not saying that brands should all rush out to make call-to-action necklaces and slogan t-shirts so that you can PR the hell out of them, but for brands to remain relevant in the world, it is important that they know what is going on in it. And in fact, Gen Z customers – your clients’ current or potential future paycheques – insist on it, far more than previous generations. As the New York Times wrote this week in a piece on Gen Z-focused beauty brands, “a decade ago your lipstick wasn’t expected to comment on social justice…“ It is now – and beauty brands are not the only ones that need to take note.

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