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Local Fashion Designers Showcase Political Protest Clothing Lines

While millions marched in protest of President Donald Trump, several Pittsburgh clothing designers took their resistance to the runway.

The event last week in Lawrenceville highlighted the intersection of fashion and politics through new collections.

“My line was kind of patriotic, but ironically because the show wasn’t supporting our president,” said Jeremy Priola, of Butler, who organized the show. “I wanted to make the point that it’s still patriotic to protest.”

Priola said he started planning the showcase the day after the election and had no problem finding designers who also wanted to “protest and take a stand” through their original clothing. The event was described as a way to protect minority groups, including the LGBT community, people of color, people with disabilities and women. 

Credit Courtesy Julia Metelsky
Megan Zielke, 24, of South Side, models her feminist clothing line on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. Zielke says politics always have a place in her design process.

South Side designer Megan Zielke said that, as a feminist and member of the LGBT community, she felt obligated to express her political feelings through the medium she knows best.

“Fashion has always had just a huge part of history,” Zielke said. “It all intersects together. There’s no real defining line; it’s all kind of blurred.”

At last weekend’s Women’s March on Washington and affiliate marches throughout the country, pink “pussyhats” dotted the crowd, a symbol of solidarity and empowerment for many women.

Designer and model Sydney Davis, of East Liberty, also makes headgear related to the female body. She’s created a line of hats called NipLids. Davis paints her nipple, pushes it against the front of the hat and embellishes the design by hand. 

Davis said she didn’t design the hats to be intentionally shocking, but she likes to see how people interpret the look.

“A lot of people see eyes, but everyone sees something different,” Davis said. “That’s what’s so beautiful about it.”

Priola said he’s enthusiastic about the direction of Pittsburgh’s fashion scene, and looks forward to how designers respond to the new administration. 

“This is very freeing as a woman,” Davis said. “This is what I’m going to do regardless of what anybody thinks -- a man, a woman, Republican, Democrat, whatever. I won’t let that be influenced by regulation.”

Katie Blackley is a digital editor/producer for 90.5 WESA, where she writes, edits and generates both web and on-air content for features and daily broadcast. She's the producer and host of our Good Question! series and podcast. She also covers history and the LGBTQ community. kblackley@wesa.fm
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