The fashion industry and the 2016 US Presidential Election
On November 8, 2016, citizens of the United States of America will vote for a new President. After Election Day, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will emerge as the 45th President of the United States and will be sworn into office in January 2017.
History has been made in this election with Clinton becoming the first woman to win the Democratic ticket, and history could be made again on Tuesday if she wins the election and becomes the first-ever female to be named US President. Many fashion designers, brands and retailers have taken part in this election through endorsements, product launches, store closures and by severing ties with candidates.
Macy’s was one of the first to take part in this election. In 2015, the retailer was urged to sever ties with current Republican candidate Donald Trump for statements he made about Mexico and its citizens. Trump, who made his feelings about non-US citizens very clear early in his campaign, had an ongoing partnership with Macy’s to sell his men’s collection. The retailer entered the partnership agreement with Trump in 2004, the same year he entered into a license agreement with PVH to design and produce the Donald J. Trump brand. PVH severed ties with Trump a few days after Macy’s.
Overseas, Lifestyle, the Middle East department store chain, removed Trump Home products from its stores. Trump’s anti-Muslim comments resulted in the product removal at Lifestyle stores in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. Sachin Mundhwa, CEO of Landmark, the parent company of Lifestyle, said in an email statement, "In light of the recent statements made by the presidential candidate in the US media, we have suspended sale of all products from the Trump Home décor range."
Sportswear giant Nike was also called to sever ties with Trump in April 2016. Nike does not have a product partnership with Trump, but the company does operate its Niketown New York City flagship store at Trump Tower. The lease for the flagship will end in 2017 after the next US President is elected.
Trump did find an unlikely partner in American Apparel, though the partnership is unofficial. The Republican candidate’s campaign merchandise includes t-shirts that were produced by the Los Angeles-based company. A spokesperson for the ailing company told Fortune, "Because we believe in free trade, we sell our American-made t-shirts to thousands of screen printers across the country, allowing them to sell to any customers they choose. Since we cannot control our wholesalers’ business practices, we want to emphasize that our core values do not always align with the messages printed on the end consumer’s product.”
American Apparel parodied Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan with a “Make America Gay Again” t-shirt.
Clinton received much more favorable responses in this election. In September 2015, Victoria Beckham told the press that she is interested in dressing Hillary. "I've never met her," she said. "I would love to. I support women and I love strong women and so I would absolutely love to dress her." Beckham’s desire to dress Clinton is not a true endorsement, unlike Karl Lagerfeld who fully endorsed Clinton in March 2016.
Designers Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, and Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne of Public School showed support for Clinton and women’s rights with their respective Made for History t-shirt collection. The collection included retro-inspired t-shirts and phrases like “Women’s rights are human rights.”
Jacobs said, “My support for Hillary is grounded on our long-standing shared belief in equality. I am proud to share this t-shirt as a champion for equal rights, for the progress we have made and for the hope of continued progress with Hillary as president.”
With only a few days left to the election, Supreme took to social media to endorse Hillary Clinton and urged citizens to vote. Almost one month prior, Vogue endorsed Clinton via an article, and Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss, penned an essay for W Magazine to explain why he is voting and why others should go out and vote too. W Magazine also shared a video featuring many fashion personalities including Diane von Furstenberg, Zac Posen, and Donna Karan explaining why people should vote on Election Day.
In addition to product launches and essays, Patagonia took things a step further by announcing it will close all of its stores to urge its employees and customers to vote on Election Day.
On November 8, the Presidential Election will come to an end and the US and the fashion industry will undoubtedly be a part of history.
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