Prabal Gurung Spoke To Us About Wearable Politics And Fashion's New Order

'Feminism is not just a trending topic- it is a constant battle.'

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Prabal Gurung is a one-man revolution, hell-bent on spreading the message of diversity and strength.

Far from shying away from fashion's tricky relationship with racism, size-ism and more, he has put his money where his mouth is and has released his AW/17 finale t-shirts, which took New York Fashion Week by storm.

We spoke to the designer about his political and sartorial passions, and how he might be up for working with the next season of America's Next Top Model...

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Could you talk us through the slogans - why did you chose them and why did you focus on immigration, feminism, and genderless love?

We are at a crucial point in our world's history. As a designer with a platform, I feel a responsibility to use my voice and to actively take part in the conversation in a way that can provoke change.

This led to the idea of our t-shirt finale at the Fall 2017 show.

Prabal Gurung AW/17

I was at the Women's March and saw so many signs with empowering sayings. I became so captivated by them and could not stop searching on Instagram and online to read them all. About a week later, we had the idea to take the words of real women, the million women who marched around the world, and use them to make a statement to inspire dialogue at and around our show.

Women's March on Washington
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Who do you see wearing your t-shirts and why do you think it's important for people to emblazon their ideals on their clothing?

The essence of who a woman is has always been at the forefront of our designs and our brand, so I see any woman, or man, who embodies our ideals of passion, strength and integrity, wearing these shirts.

The shirts actually originated as a runway only message meant to create a dialogue and celebrate the exuberance of being a woman while leaving a lasting impact, however the response has been so incredible that we decided to partner with Selfridges to make them available for everyone.

I feel a responsibility to use my voice and to actively take part in the conversation in a way that can provoke change.

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A portion of the proceeds will also be donated to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and our foundation, Shikshya Foundation Nepal.

Fashion has always been political, but wearable politics has reached fever pitch, why is that and do you see that disappearing any time soon?

Our political climate has created a new demand for fashionable and wearable garments that make a statement. Social media gives us all a powerful way to have a voice and disseminate information while creating a global dialogue.

Until we see a change in policy and an improvement in women's rights and minority rights, I don't see this disappearing anytime soon.

About a week later, we had the idea to take the words of real women, the million women who marched around the world, and use them to make a statement to inspire dialogue at and around our show.

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For me, feminism is not just a trending topic - it is a constant battle. I've been told by some to keep quiet -- that fashion and politics do not mix and that I should stick to my trade, however I cannot disagree more. I feel compelled to take a stand and challenge notions of what fashion's role can be in our society.

Wearable politics

How did you decide to address the topic of diversity on your catwalks and for your clothing lines? Did you have a moment where you consciously decided to do that or was it always a natural inclination for you?

Celebrating diversity has always been essential to me and to our brand. Here I am, a man from Nepal who came to America with a dream. I was welcomed and accepted for my unique point of view, and believe everyone deserves this courtesy.

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It is so important to embrace women and men of all races, shapes, sizes, and ages, and I believe that there should be more than one definition of beauty in our society.

Prabal Gurung's line at Lane Bryant

Could you talk us through the charities you have chosen and why they are close to your heart?

We chose to donate a portion of the proceeds from our t-shirts to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and my foundation, Shikshya Foundation Nepal.

For me, feminism is not just a trending topic-- it is a constant battle.

The ACLU, or American Civil Liberties Union, works to defend individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the constitution, which are currently being tarnished and challenged here in the US. Planned Parenthood is an incredible organization that provides access to healthcare for women across our country.

Finally, Shikshya Foundation Nepal is an organization we started to provide education to children in Nepal, and to date, we have given more than 200 children a complete education. All three of these organizations empower sustainable and positive lives and futures, and we are proud to support such causes.

Kristen Stewart supporting Planned Parenthood

How might these slogans resonate with British women?

Our slogans were inspired by the international political and social climate, so I do feel they will resonate across all borders. Britain has such a strong liberal and creative energy and style...it is incredible inspiring. I lived in London previously and find the city to be so vibrant. It is always a joy returning back to a city I love so dearly.

Prabal Gurung and Ashley Graham

You are friends with Ashley Graham and Bella Hadid cried while walking for your show. How would you explain your relationship with the models you work with?

I choose to work with models who are muses, who have a point of view and a voice, and I always want to work with models who embody our brand ideals.

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The cultural zeitgeist is changing and digital media has created a disruption, giving power to anyone who wants to take a stand and use their voice. I love that the authority has shifted. Women like Ashley, Bella, Candice, and Joan (to name a few) are trailblazers, and I only want to align with women who understand and value their inner beauty and wit.

Bella Hadid walking Prabal Gurung AW/17

Finally, how happy are you that India won ANTM and would you be up for appearing on the show for a challenge?

I was rooting for India all season, so was thrilled she was recognized as the winner! And you never know….VH1, I'm here if you want me…

The monochrome t-shirts emblazoned with bad-ass messages like, 'Love is the resistance' and 'This is what a feminist looks like' are now exclusively available at Selfridges for £155, with some of the proceeds going to charity.

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