2019 (SE)

Behind Feminist Clothes

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Art direction | Exhibition | Graphic Design | Set Design | Norm Critical practice | Print on Fabric

Today’s fashion industry is glamorizing feminist movements and reducing them to a slogan directly printed on products as marketing tools. But what lies behind these new ways of communicating?

This work explore the relationship between the H&M group using feminism marketing to sell clothes, and the working conditions in the factories that make them.

Mark

© êkhô


In her lecture Calling Bullsh*t on Faux Feminism as a Marketing Commodity, communications consultant Katie Martell uses the term faux feminism for the exploitation of feminism by the advertising industry. Brands are using feminist narratives to profit from women’s engagement. They have seen an opportunity to sell more products to more women while glorifying their brand image.


Some employees and customers may think they are contributing to a good cause by selling or buying empowering slogan garments from a company that seems progressive and feminist. They may think that wearing feminist slogans printed on products is one way of engaging in a direct dialogue with the people who react to it and therefore spreading political messages. Also, they may believe that they are a part of a company fighting for equality, standing for feminist values. But in reality, a lot of these companies are just using feminist narratives as marketing tools while enslaving women. It is what Katie Martell has called the illusion of progress.



© Monki feminist garnments


©Monki Campaign – Monkifesto



We have hijacked some of the H&M Group garments, the ones with feminist statements. We printed some parts of the report Gender-Based Violence in the H&M Garment Supply Chain, issued by workers’ rights group Asia Floor Wage, on top of the garments’ slogans. The workers’ voices, highlighting violence toward women in their factories, are disconnected from the initial message of the garment, denouncing what is happening inside the company.


©Women workers testimony printed in purple on top of the ‘Salute Sisterhood’ T-shirts by Monki


This work is focused on the garment industry, taking the H&M Group as a case study. It is an interesting example as this group has several brands – H&M, COS, WEEKDAY, MONKI, H&M HOME, & other stories, ARKET and AFOUND – all of which communicate in different ways.

One of their brands, MONKI, is constructed around feminist narratives. The brand uses pale pink, body diversity and feminist statement as part of its identity. For its 10-year anniversary, the campaign Monkifesto highlighted 10 statements, such as “knowledge is queen”, “please yo’self” or “salute sisterhood”. They were advocating for women’s empowerment and claimed that as their brand values. But what is behind this marketing strategy? Does this company really “empowher” the women working in it? Under what conditions do the women who make these slogan tees really work?

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