Q. What is Start the Riot and how did it start?
Start the Riot is a project of the House of Riot aiming to empower young people to speak up and use their voice, by using mediums that they connect with, focussing on fashion now, but not limited to it. We want to foster empathy over apathy.
Start the Riot began at this past Australian Fashion Fashion Week. I painted 100 t-shirts with positive political slogans on them; slogans included “Reject Racism” “Sexism Sucks” “Clean Energy, Clean Country” etc.. The goal was to have a sea of people at Fashion Week being street styled and blogged wearing the tees and sparking conversation. I also made a zine to be handed out a fashion week if people wanted more information on the issues discussed on the tees.
Q. The quotes in your t-shirt are about different issues, what are they and why did you choose them?
The original batch that I made for Fashion Week included about 60 different slogans covering issues on Human Rights, Environmental Issues, Feminism, Climate Change, Racism and more. I was encouraging people who wore the shirts to come up with their own slogans or at least suggest an issue and we could work on the slogan together. It was important for me that this project was about people sharing their own voice and not just attaching themselves to a preexisting idea.
“I honestly had no idea
how far this would go”
Q. Have you achieved what you expected with this project?
Yes, and much more. I honestly had no idea how far this would go. Start the Riot was designed to only run for Fashion Week but due it’s success I have decided to keep it running. The biggest surprise for me was the global reach. It has been written up all over the world, America, Japan, Canada, Korea, UK, Denmark and many more. I also started receiving emails from individual telling me how the project had inspired them to take political action in their own way, which was the whole point. The whole experience has been extremely rewarding.
Q. What’s the next step?
We have been working with UK based activist group The Future for the next phase of the Start the Riot project. The Future’s main focus is climate change and we have just last week bought out a new range of climate change tees. We are currently planning global events for later in the year to raise awareness on the issue and to put pressure on governments to take more action. We have also started collaborating with local and international designers, musicians and film makers to continue our work with other issues too. The next we will tackle is most likely to be feminism.
Q. The FW photos of you and other model colleagues have been seen everywhere, how was the coverage in Australia?
Yes, the support locally was great. I was even interviewed for radio here which was quite exciting.
Q. In your opinion, have you broken some stereotypes joining modeling and politics?
I don’t think there are any stereotypes regarding modeling and politics as I don’t think the two have really been bought together often. I think there are big stereotypes on models doing anything requiring brain function, and I hope that I have broken these fallacies.
Q. People around the world have contacted you about the Start the Riot project, asking for information and the shirts, how are you answering to those requests?
The response has been very overwhelming and it has been a challenge keeping up with the new workload. But it has been so exciting working on a project that is bigger then myself and this is what has really kept me going in those late nights.
Q. If the Spanish readers want to be part of the movement, how can they participate?
“We are donating 20% of profits
from the t-shirt sales to charity”
Q. What about the incomes of selling the products at the store?
We are donating 20% of profits from the t-shirt sales to charity. The first campaign was all about human rights with donations going to Amnesty International. The latest release was focusing on Climate Change with donations going to the Global Cool Foundation. The rest of the profits are reinvested back into House of Riot to support future projects.
Q. It’s soon, it’s just the “start” of the riot, but there will be a 2nd part?
Yes! And hopefully 3rd and 4th and many more to come. Stay tuned at via the House of Riot Facebook page for updates.
Photos: Jae Hyun Lim