“Fashion Our Future 2020 is really about giving a space to amplify voices and providing tools for people to be able to speak about issues that matter, educate, participate, and meet people where they’re at,” Erwiah says. “The brands can easily register people on their sites—it’s very low-hanging fruit. There are text messaging possibilities—put it on the clothes. Virgil put it on one of the T-shirts. He has a T-shirt that says ‘Text to Register.’ It’s really simple.”
The product offering, which will launch next week, combines form with function. In addition to Abloh’s tee and another that reads “Model Voter,” there are also face masks and lunch boxes. “Michelle Obama in her DNC speech said, ‘Pack your lunch; you might be standing there for a while.’ So we’re really just trying to make it as easy as possible and useful as possible because obviously sustainability matters to us too, so we try not to make things for no reason,” Erwiah adds.
Getting the fashion community on board was easy. Erwiah explains that Abloh, Taylor, Glemaud, and Noel were especially instrumental to the project, collaborating on Zoom calls and finding every way to help. “Now more than ever it’s really important that we move with intention and use our voices,” says Noel. “My voice is fashion. So at such a pivotal time, it’s my duty to spread the word about voting, but in the most fashionable way, of course! I wanted to create something universal and versatile that would be fun and wearable. The Fe Noel x Fashion Our Future bandana is the perfect accessory to make a statement with.”
“As designers we express ourselves via clothing and now we are using our collective platforms to effect change and bring awareness that the upcoming election will have long-lasting generational repercussions,” says Glemaud. “I feel that our combined creativity and political awareness might help change our current American political landscape.”
“It’s important to me to use the platform I have to support social issues that I believe in,” says Taylor. “The fashion industry holds a lot of power and I think it’s important designers feel a responsibility to speak up and encourage change, and it is inspiring to see how working together can achieve progress.”
Wearing a T-shirt promoting voting isn’t the end point of the conversation, and Erwiah hopes that a tee or a lunch box or a mask can serve as a representation and reminder of how crucial the right to vote is. “I think of my mother,” she says. “[She] is one day younger than John Lewis, one year older than Emmett Till. You know about Emmett Till and the lynching, so think about: She was 14, 15 when it happened in Mississippi. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, she was 25. She didn’t have those rights, and now I have them.”
She continues: “I feel like we can draw these human connections, remember what we have access to, celebrate how far we’ve come, and join together while we’re still united on November 3 and be a model voter. I think that’s something worth doing and it’s inspiring.”
The question remains: What product from Fashion Our Future will Erwiah herself be wearing to vote on November 3? “I’m going to come back to you on that because I haven’t figured it out yet,” she says. “I’m going to try to make it the best outfit I’ve worn in 2020.”