The Pussyhat

On 21 January 2017 a knitted pink hat became a global symbol of female solidarity and the power of collective action. Known as the Pussyhat it was worn by many of the half a million people who took part in the Women's March in Washington DC.

The Pussyhat Project aimed to turn the march into a 'sea of pink', creating a striking visual statement of solidarity for women's rights in protest against the incoming Trump administration. An estimated 4 million people took part in sister marches in over 600 cities around the world on the same day.

Voice of America, Brian Allen, 2017
Voice of America, Brian Allen, 2017

On 13 February 2017 one of these Pussyhats entered the V&A's collection as part of our Rapid Response Collecting activities. Rapid Response provides a way for the V&A to engage in a timely way with important events that shape, or are shaped by design, architecture and technology.

The particular hat that is now part of the V&A's permanent collection was knitted by Jayna Zweiman who, alongside Krista Suh, co-founded the Pussyhat Project shortly after the 2016 US Presidential Election. In the run up to the march, the pair teamed up with Kat Coyle, owner of Los Angeles yarn shop The Little Knittery, who they asked to design a simple pattern that was to be shared publicly. Their intent was to encourage others to create their own knitted Pussyhat to wear during the march, or to donate ones they made to others who were marching. The 'cat ear' design was developed in part as a response to a recording of Trump, released by the American television programme, Access Hollywood, during the election campaign, in which he claimed "to grab them by the pussy" – an assertion he later put down to "locker room banter".

Pussyhat worn at the Women’s March in Washington on 21 January 2017, designed by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, and Kat Coyle, knitted by Jayna Zweiman, 2017, US. Museum no. PROV.611-2017. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Pussyhat worn at the Women’s March in Washington on 21 January 2017, designed by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, and Kat Coyle, knitted by Jayna Zweiman, 2017, US. Museum no. PROV.611-2017. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Pussyhat worn at the Women’s March in Washington on 21 January 2017, designed by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, and Kat Coyle, knitted by Jayna Zweiman, 2017, US. Museum no. PROV.611-2017. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Pussyhat worn at the Women’s March in Washington on 21 January 2017, designed by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, and Kat Coyle, knitted by Jayna Zweiman, 2017, US. Museum no. PROV.611-2017. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

What started as a Los Angeles craft community project grew rapidly, gaining global support as people shared the pattern and photos of their hats across social media, from the knitting community site, Ravelry, to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The hat quickly became an immediately recognisable expression of female solidarity and symbol of the power of collective action, even featuring on the cover of Time Magazine in February 2017.

Like many of our Rapid Response Collecting acquisitions, the Pussyhat is a modest material object. Yet it is also a powerfully communicative product of today’s design and digital culture that speaks to broader changes in our social and political landscape.