How protest fashion became this year’s hottest Christmas gift

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Bean Hive 

You know a shop is special when it garners a one-star review on Google, from someone “shocked and appalled” by the “completely detestable and pointless” political slogans in the window. Owner of Bean Hive by the Sea in Falmouth used parts of the review to create products, including a T-shirt that says: “I bought some tat at Falmouth’s cave of horrors”.

“Our infamous one-star review criticising us for our political stance has become one of the best advertising tools we’ve ever had,” said owner Em Parker.

The shop contains everything from pro-trans rights tees to queer badges and lucky dip bags, with profits going to the shop’s chosen charity each month – December’s being medical aid for Palestine.

Parker said: “The shop has always reflected my politics. We have increasingly become more overtly confrontational with our messages and products over time, but we’ve always made a conscious effort to stock things from queer, people of colour, female, non-binary, trans and makers and designers from marginalised backgrounds, which is political itself. By selling their things we are giving a clear message – their voice needs to be heard.”

Topple and Burn 

Libby Freeman, owner of Topple and Burn, makes political jewellery, protest clothing and posters with slogans such as: Smash The Patriarchy, Refugees Welcome, Feminism and They/Them. It began when Freeman made a necklace to raise money for Calais Action in 2017. 

“I expected to raise about £200, but even with my awful makeshift website it went viral and sold hundreds in the first week,” she said. “I started making different designs about other causes I was passionate about, and it evolved into a business very quickly. 

“We get a lot of messages from customers telling us that wearing our jewellery empowers them and how it starts a lot of important discussions. When you have passion and rage about things that really matter to you, the self-expression that comes with being able to wear how you’re feeling is a release.”

Honey-blue Stevens is a member of The Big Issue’s Breakthrough programme.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy!

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