US fashion executives talk about what’s happening now

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It has always been possible that the results of the 2020 US presidential election will not be decided on the day – or possibly even the week – of Election Day. Former Vice President Joe Biden was declared the winner in Wisconsin and Michigan on Wednesday, putting him on the cusp of the 270 electoral votes he needs for victory. However, President Donald Trump, who falsely claimed victory in the early hours of the morning, said he would seek a recount in Wisconsin and threatened legal action to slow or stop vote counting in other states. .

Biden and Trump offered starkly different visions of America’s future under their hypothetical administrations. And while fashion leaders aren’t sure which of these results is coming, they have a lot to say about the actions the industry needs to take.

This year, many companies have not only encouraged their customers to vote through marketing campaigns or by selling pro-democracy products, but they have also tried to allow their employees to vote and volunteer at the polls. In a clever marketing move, Everlane went black on Election Day, giving every employee a paid day off and encouraging customers to focus their attention on issues while voting. At Warby Parker, more than 100 employees have taken paid time off to work at the polls as volunteers.

For fashion brands, the results will be substantial: Trump’s protectionist trade policies could further erode margins, while Biden’s potential tax hikes could come at a significant cost. But right now, leaders are eager to focus on what they can change and the steps they’ll need to take to get there.

“The more prepared you are for uncertainty, the better you can deal with it,” said Neil Blumenthal, co-CEO and co-founder of Warby Parker.

Here’s what fashion leaders in the United States are saying about how the industry needs to move forward:

On industry transformation

“Building bridges is going to be important. We’ve suffered in the past four years, factories have had to move, we’ve been hit on the supply side, on the distribution side, we’ve been hit on the sales side. We don’t can’t blame the administration, 100% We’re a global company, heavily dependent on most partnerships in the world…partners have been hurt, people aren’t paying their bills, it doesn’t matter who wins, we , as an industry, have taken it upon ourselves to pay back a lot of the damages, and it’s unrealistic to think that the federal government will do that for us.” — Helen Aboah, Managing Director, Urban Zen

“We urgently need to address our own reliance on the broken ‘take-do-throw’ model that fashion has long neglected. This is a singular time when we have the opportunity to recalibrate and re-inform who we want to be as an industry. It’s up to all of us to look at the traditional fashion supply chain: from design, to materials sourcing, to manufacturing and end practices. of life… We have understood the imperative here for a long time, but we know that we must continue to innovate in the space and in partnering with designers and retailers to inspire an even more active participation in the closing of the consumption loop. — Jennifer Hyman, Managing Director, Rent the Runway

“If Biden wins and takes Congress, the fight will be to push real reform, to advance conversations about health, environment and social policy beyond the usual Democratic corporatism. If Biden wins and the GOP [Grand Old Party] In Congress, the struggle will be to fight tooth and nail for the few GOPs who are open to breaking party lines in order to get anything done…” – Céline Semaan, Founder, The Slow Factory

On civic engagement

“Brands and business leaders who take on a more civic role are absolutely here to stay. There’s a part of me that thinks that’s nothing new: business leaders have always been very involved in their The nature of business has evolved, and so has society, that the impact that business leaders and businesses can have extends far beyond their local little league team. tends that remains true. Neil Blumenthal, Co-CEO and Co-Founder, Warby Parker

“This presidential election is one of the most divisive in modern history. Regardless of who occupies the seat of President of the United States, we will continue to focus on important issues of protecting human rights and change. Four years ago, we launched our 100% Human Platform alongside the ACLU and through it donated nearly $1 million to fight laws and policies that challenge human rights, including protecting and advocating for immigrant rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ+ rights. It’s crucial that the fashion industry come together to stand up for these critical issues.” — Michael Preysman, Managing Director, Everlane

“It’s a really tough time to be a leader or a business founder because you have to figure out how to distinguish between your personal opinions and what’s best for the business… We’re going back to our values fundamentals, reminding people internally and our customers of the things that are important to us: caring for those less fortunate and giving a voice to marginalized groups and trying not to politicize that…just reinforce for people in general what is important to us.” — David Heath, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Bombas

On creating stability

“Now is a time to come together as a country and treat each other with respect and compassion. At PVH – and across the fashion industry – we have a role to play in fostering a culture that We not only care about what we do, but We will continue to stay true to our values ​​at PVH and use our influence in the industry to move fashion forward for good. Stefan Larsson, President, PVH

“My wish is for calm, focused leadership and a plan to navigate Covid and give business and the economy a boost. The fashion industry – and businesses in general – need clarity to move forward. forward. It’s hard for business owners to plan amid such volatility and division. Whoever wins, we need to heal and be hopeful for what the next year holds.” — Deirdre Quinn, General Manager, Lafayette 148

“America is an incredibly divided country, more divided than any of us could imagine and it’s heartbreaking. My hope for any combination of victory would be, at the very least, to restore a curb process and balance with decision-making. I’m optimistic that when some sense of normalcy resumes, we can begin to heal as a nation.” —Patrick Herning, Managing Director, 11 Honoré

Additional reporting by Alexandra Mondalek and Cathaleen Chen.

Editor’s note: This article was revised on November 5, 2020. A previous version of this article stated that Stefan Larsson is the Managing Director of PVH. It’s wrong. Larsson is currently president of PVH.

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