It had already started last week, and it started like this. First there were #RefugeesWelcome signs at designer Robert James’s show, then Willy Chavaria, a newcomer to the fashion arena, put out a casting call for “Mexican, sexy wet back, fearless immigrant” models with an “intolerance for hate.” Of course, at this point, the design house Balenciaga had already made Senator Bernie Sanders its fashion icon (for better or for worse).
By the start of the women’s chapter of New York Fashion Week, everyone was certain they weren’t mincing their words by saying that President Donald Trump, his administration and his family are not supported by the fashion world. Of course, the first tangible sign came when Nordstrom, TJ Maxx and Marshalls dropped First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s goods from their stores. Then, as part of some unfortunate much-needed clarification of what the organization actually does, the Council of Fashion Designer of America gave a little boost to Planned Parenthood—which isn’t a baby-killing agency but rather a place where women of all races, shapes, sizes and identifications can receive a multitude of healthcare options—in the form of some handy hot pink pins; less of a pussy bow and more of a pussy coup, if you will.
And then just like cerulean, Fashion Week designers began showing those pink pins everywhere—from the tented runways to the snowy streets bordering the venues. High-profile designers like Diane von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez, Tory Burch and Zac Posen are all supporters of these pins, showing them in their shows or just handing them out as a sign of solidarity. Pins are everywhere. But did Ivanka—or even Donald—notice them as they sat on their phones tweeting?
At the same time, “The Business of Fashion” launched its own support system called the #TiedTogether campaign that calls on the fashion community to wear a white bandana signaling solidarity with the resistance movement. They are calling this a symbol of “unity and inclusiveness amidst growing uncertainty and a dangerous political narrative peddling division on both sides of the Atlantic,” according to a statement announcing the initiative. And these bandanas have their list of supporting designers too. Tommy Hilfiger, who said he would dress Melania Trump regardless of his personal politics, is on board, as are Thakoon, 3.1 Phillip Lim, and again, Diane von Furstenberg.
On Friday, even Reebok weighed in with a line of t-shirts that support Senator Elizabeth Warren with “Nevertheless, she persisted” printed on the front. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne, co-founders of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund-winning label Public School, made sure they were showing their own political thoughts with a collection sporting a very powerful “Make America New York” slogan seen on hats and shirts. “My Muslim brothers and sisters, NYC is out here and will continue to be out here in support,“ Chow wrote on his Instagram. "New York is an immigrant town.”
Korean designer Yuna Yang launched her collection here at New York Fashion Week too, one that is inspired by the concept of a single candle and its ability to overpower darkness. In an interview with NBC she said, “Here in the United States, after the presidential election, we witnessed the largest organized protest—the Women’s March. Many women are uniting, not only from different states, but from all around the world. This proves that even in the darkest social or political times, we believe in the power of one person holding a candle.”
So proud to be part of my dear friend @csiriano’s show and especially grateful for this quite emotional moment. The truth couldn’t be more simple! These #PeopleArePeople t-shirts can be bought through #christiansiriano’s website and 100% of proceeds go to @aclu_nationwide 💖 #nyfw http://store.christiansiriano.com/product/people-are-people-tee-benefits-aclu
Fashion’s bad boy Jeremy Scott is probably the loudest of all. His collection at Fashion Week is in fact called “a call to arms.” In an interview with NPR he said, “Donald has given us a gift. He has woken us up.” Shirts in Scott’s collection read “Our voice is the only thing that will protect us.” Phone numbers for lawmakers in Congress are listed on the back. “Mobilizing is not just wearing clothing. It’s about calling,” he added in his NPR interview. “You have a right to be heard. The mass psychosis across half the nation is still settling in.”
At designer Christian Siriano’s show, model Jasmine Poulton wore a shirt that said “People are people” (above). Proceeds from that shirt will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union. Designer Prabal Gurung let his models do the talking with custom t-shirts that read “3 million,” “The future is female,” “I count” and “She persisted.“ Backstage at LRS’s runway show, models wore underwear that read “No ban, no wall.”
And then, the Queen’s voice was heard. Vogue editor-in-chief and avid Hillary Clinton supported Anna Wintour didn’t wait to weigh in on the political rumblings at Fashion Week. “[They will] be inspired by what they see and that will come out in their work,” she said in an interview. “The next few years are going to be incredibly creative.”
Who says fashion isn’t political? Let’s see how the European shows respond next week. And listen: it’s not just the elite fashion world protesting. The decisions made by Nordstrom and TJ Maxx proves it’s happening on Main Street, too. And that’s what is most exciting to see. Perhaps the fashion world, including those mainstream brands that were too scared to say anything at the Super Bowl, will be one of the most major forces during this administration, motivating politicians to not only dress better, but to also address the real issues.