Fashion, politics and the dividing line

Fashion and politics

Model Veronica Webb in Sophie Theallet's S/S16 campaign

This is an uncertain political time, you can’t deny that emotions are running high. And fashion, we know is a reflection of its time, and so fashion is now coming to unpack what the US Election might mean for society, its consumers and brand loyalty. In fact the emotions caused NY Times Fashion critic Vanessa Friedman to question Is Fashion’s Love Affair With Washington Over?

Since the election result was revealed, designers have come out for and against Trump. At the tail end of last week, Designer Sophie Theallet released an open letter about how she would not be dressing the new First lady and encouraged other designers to follow suit, as a stand against Trump’s rhetorical around women, homosexuality and race.

Sophie’s position is a brave out-spoken one, one that she can freely make thanks to be a family run business, with no one to answer to.  Then earlier this week All-American designer Tommy Hilfiger also added to the news cycle, saying to WWD that: “I think Melania is a very beautiful woman and I think any designer should be proud to dress her….I don’t think people should become political about it.”    And, it’s not just designers adding their opinion, brands are also coming down the dividing line, and capitalising on how high emotions are running around this topic.  After New Balance’s Matt LeBretton told the Wall Street Journal that “we feel things are going to move in the right direction” under Donald J. Trump, a lot of consumers headed to social media to post images of them throwing away their New Balance sneakers. Reebok took advantage of this, and headed to social media to offer free sneakers to those who threw their New Balance away.     


There’s also a further debate on how the election might affect the retail industries bottom line. In the same way that the announcement of Brexit caused anxiety regarding shipping and trade deals, Trump’s decision around the Trans-Pacific Partnership (to withdraw from the deal or not) could seriously impact the retail trade.

So, as we head in 2017 it will be interesting to see how the relationship between fashion and politics evolve. And it will be interesting to see how brands tackle this very real issue, making sure to keep communicating with their new, emotional, empassioned consumers, as well as their long-standing older consumers.


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