US fashion designers are getting political, urging people to vote

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With the next presidential election just 33 days away, American designers and brands are playing politics, urging their customers to vote.

While many brands may lean toward the Democratic end of the political spectrum, few openly pledge allegiance to one side or the other, in an effort not to alienate followers and customers. Yet more than at any other time, the 2020 election is unifying the American fashion community to energize voters.

It was only four years ago that designers got political to say they wouldn’t dress new First Lady Melania Trump. Whether or not that promise is kept, brands are now sending another message:

Michael Kors

“Our greatest right and privilege as Americans is the right to have our voices heard,” says Kors. A cashmere sweater with the slogan “VOTE” sees the brand donate 100% of profits to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), America’s premier legal organization fighting for racial justice.

A t-shirt with the text Your Voice Matters produced in partnership with the black-owned company FKSP aims to encourage voter registration and participation.

Believe in better

When former Vice President Joe Biden announced his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, a group of 19 top American designers including Joseph Altuzarra, Thom Browne, Tory Burch, Jonathan Cohen, Carly Cushnie, Kathryn and Lizzie Fortunato, Victor Glemaud, Prabal Gurung, Gabriela Hearst, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler, Brett Heyman of Edie Parker, Aurora James of Brother Vellies, Thakoon Panichgul, Monique Pean, Joe Perez, Vera Wang and Jason Wu created a collection called Believe in Better .

The collection includes limited-edition shirts, sweatshirts, totes, scarves, face masks and jewelry that support Biden’s campaign. All items are made in the USA.

banana republic

Banana Republic launched a Will Work For A Better Republic campaign in September, in partnership with nonprofits Delivering Good and Rock the Vote. The latter aims to promote voter registration in this election year with Rock the Vote providing election reminders via email and SMS to those who register.

Fashion Our Future 2020

Founded by Abrima Erwiah of sustainable brand Studio 189 and counting Virgil Abloh as creative director, Fashion Our Future 2020 aims to unite the voices of the fashion community in a coordinated effort to galvanize the youth vote.

Kenneth Cole

“This is obviously a hugely important year for the future of our country, so we’ve reached out to thousands of design students to help us increase turnout,” the shoe company says on its website. As part of an initiative by design students, the brand gave a simple brief: “We make a statement, you make it better”, offering students the choice of three messages to use in an artwork: IF YOU DON’T VOTE, WE DON’T EXIST, YOU VOTE, WE EXIST, VOTE TO EXIST.

Dover Street Market New York

On its Instagram account, DSM indicates that two thirds of young people did not vote in the last election. “Ahead of this year’s election, DSM asked its community in the United States to join in educating, raising awareness, and creating a call to action around registration and voting. Merchandise from brands such as Stussy, Honey Dijon, Hood by Air, Marc Jacobs and Off White will see 100% of proceeds donated to When We All Vote.

The US election will take place on November 3, 2020.

Images of Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Kenneth Cole.

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