By Illona Trogub
Sitting on a bench in Chapman Square, Maxwell Hunter stuck out at Occupy Portland. In freshly pressed suit and tie with a laptop perching on his lap, he could have been a normal sight in any downtown park. But he chose our park with the ambiance of chaotic revolution to surround him. His theory? Revolt, but don’t forget to put on your Sunday best.
Maxwell doesn’t enjoy wearing a suit and tie. Most people don’t. However, Maxwell realizes the uphill battle Occupiers fight when it comes to being heard by those who live in the mainstream.
“When you see people you can relate to and they’re talking about a problem you can relate to, their message is going to have a greater impact on you than if that message was coming from someone wearing ripped and patched up clothes, someone who you can’t identify with,” Maxwell says. “The mainstream media will do anything to discredit Occupiers. Let’s give them one less excuse.”
The solution? Disguise yourself as one of them. During the occupation of Chapman and Lownsdale squares, Maxwell and other forward thinkers formed the Occupy Portland Fashion Committee. They brought down bags of button-up shirts, ties, and slacks and dressed sharply in camp to ensure the cameras weren’t just picking up the train-hoppers, hippies, and hobos.
Think of it as a constant “visual theater”, he says. Perception is reality when it comes to our ADHD soundbite age. The look of someone in a suit automatically confers gravitas. And when they begin dropping the truth on a newly-awakened soul, it’s like clouds parting and the sunshine of righteousness pouring forth. Sadly, this is the world in which we live. Suits have the authority. We have the truth. Mix ’em together and you get the Occupy Portland Fashion committee.
Fashion for the revolution is coming to a catwalk near you. OPDX Fashion committee has made the call out to local designers and artists to come up with worldwide uprising-inspired garb for a fashion show like no other. Created to both raise funds, as well as awareness of area talent, the event, which will also feature a silent auction, seeks to reclaim fashion as a political statement.
From their promotional flyer:
“Amongst creating problems for the 99%, President Reagan also waged a war against fashion. Belinda Carlisle, Cyndi Lauper, and Richard Simmons responded by making brightly colored tights a thing. And now, once again, we find our sense of taste threatened by the 1%…Nothing says revolution like ‘we’re not the same cliched template, we want change, and we want it now! On a serious note, we are the OPDX Fashion Committee: bringing aesthetics and taste to the revolution. Because self-expression through self-decoration is a human right.
Locally made fashion actually is its own political statement: Supporting home grown designers means voting with your money. It’s a way to invest in the local economy, keep our dollars circulating at home and create real, fair-wage jobs. Plus, it gives us a regional identity of which we can be proud.
Many artists and designers already have stepped up to produce pieces for this unique show. A tiara and necklace for the silent auction brought a grateful response from Maxwell. “Especially with Occupy’s partial roots in the Arab Spring, the themes the designs touch on are quite applicable to Occupy as a whole.”
In turning out the best and brightest designers in Portland, the summer-slated Occupy Fashion Show will spotlight both their efforts and the work of the Occupy movement as a whole.
So artists, designers, revolutionaries, we need you! Pick up your needles and sew revolution into your wardrobe. To learn more about the Occupy Fashion Show, contact Maxwell [opdxfas[email protected]], or better yet, join the OPDX Fashion Committee.