The products may be prohibitively expensive, but that doesn't necessarily mean that a designer can't make a statement. And, as their sellout successes would suggest, the luxury customer today is increasingly likely to be the kind of person who considers themselves part of a broader political conversation. Specifically, they're younger. According to analysts at Bain, quoted in the FT last week, millennials and "Gen Z" clients are expected to make up nearly half of the luxury customer base by 2025. And those clients have very different attitudes about what they want their clothes to say about who they are.
Until quite recently, fashion has been more cautious about putting its money where its T-shirts are. The nuances of global expansion into China, the Middle East and the more conservative US states, places where advocating LGBT rights, social justice and freedom of speech might be seen as bad for business, have seen design focused more on splashy branding than slogans. But times seem to be changing. After all, those who couldn't afford Dior's feminist T-shirt could probably buy one of the numerous knock-off versions on the high street.
Which raises another problem. Because if you do want to wear your awareness on your chest, you should probably be thinking very carefully about where your clothes are being manufactured and what the human and environmental costs of making them might be. The garment industry is the second-most polluting on the planet after oil. Three out of four items of clothing we buy end up in landfill. Our T-shirts are made by children.
The most socially responsible among you have already cottoned on to this. To be truly conscientious about your wardrobe, you don't need a shouty symbol or slogan to announce your awareness. You need to buy clothes from companies that are utterly transparent about their materials, manufacture and distribution. Or make them yourself. Which is why those grannies in the haberdashery department are probably the most woke fashionistas you know.