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Fashion Industry Reacts to 'Devastating' Trump Victory

Members of the fashion community, from Diane von Furstenberg to Hari Nef, share their immediate reactions to the US presidential election result, with many voicing defiance in the face of uncertainty.
Source: Shutterstock
By
  • Lauren Sherman,
  • Chantal Fernandez

NEW YORK, United States — After a clear yet shocking statement from the American electorate on Tuesday, many are struggling to come to terms with what a Donald Trump victory says about the current political sentiment in the country and what the future leadership of the controversial president-elect might mean for the United States and the world.

A large turnout in rural America and as well as a strong Republican showing in states Obama took in the last two cycles — Iowa, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — sealed the win for Trump, who is projected to get over 300 Electoral College votes. Come January, the Republican Party also will control both houses of Congress, which could have major implications for the government’s posture and actions, at home and abroad, where there was no shortage of shock.

BoF polled leading industry figures — and scanned social media — to glean their immediate reactions and better understand what they think a Donald Trump presidency might mean for the future of fashion in the US and beyond. Trump’s positions on immigration and trade are of utmost concern, as is the impact of his nationalistic demagogic rhetoric on the United States’s overall standing in the world.

Alex Bolen, CEO, Oscar de la Renta: "Fashion is an expression of the here-and-now, not yesterday, not tomorrow. Our fundamental job as designers is to suggest a way to dress that is an appropriate reflection our times, of the world in which we live right now. Last night, the American people expressed their strong desire for change. Fashion will need to react, in a likewise strong way, to that new mood. We look forward to the challenge."

Steven Kolb, president and CEO, the Council of Fashion Designers of America: "I worry about his position on immigration and how it will impact the workforce of our industry from garment workers to design students who come here to study and want to stay.  I worry about the image of American brands abroad. I worry about his position on trade and how it will impact the supply chain. And I hope with all my heart that he can put aside his ugly rhetoric and bring the country together so all Americans can live their lives freely as they choose."

Diane von Furstenberg, designer and founder, Diane von Furstenberg:  "Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.... We must believe that our future is in our hands . More than ever we must believe in good and the good of people. More than ever we must study, learn, be open minded, be generous and have compassion. More than ever we must be an example of good and influence the good. Whatever voice we have, we must use it to influence others so that our country celebrates what we cherish about it...its openness and inclusiveness."

Julie Gilhart, creative business consultant: "It's a shock but its now obvious that Trump's election is an unmistakable rejection of a system that simply isn't working for most people. Bill Cunningham use to say 'fashion is just a reflection of our times.' We have been seeing intimately in the fashion business the need for massive change and we will have to deal. It's all a guess what the future will be for American fashion and the country as a whole but there are a couple of things to remember -- first, it's only four years and secondly, a setback is just a set up for a comeback."

American fashion will lose some of its shine due to the shock of this election. But we will bounce back.

Tim Blanks, editor-at-large, The Business of Fashion: "Once again, it seems like winning the popular vote is no guarantee that you'll take the top job. But the vagaries of the electoral college are just one of the ambiguities that will guarantee continued socio-economic instability in the US.  The others are too many to list. The new leader of the free world's character flaws have been so thoroughly dissected, I'll add only that when his dogma eventually collides with his karma, it'll be hard times for all.  Which offers little encouragement to the fashion industry, especially when business is already as tough as it is. But in a less-than-ideal world, hard times can galvanise creativity. One word: punk.  And fashion's a mirror, remember?  It's going to have so damn much to reflect over the next two years (counting on something twisted happening in the mid-terms) that it could become a vehicle for a whole new depth of ideas, comment, engagement — or maybe just escape. Truth is beauty."

Phillip Lim and Wen Zhou, co-founders of 3.1 Phillip Lim: "Today is a very challenging day here in New York City – our community is filled with shock and disbelief. There is an indescribable, unwavering somber cloud that is palpable through the streets, on the subways, and here in our own studio. However, we believe in the power of optimism and hope. Together, our desire is to unite with members of our team, the fashion industry and the country as a whole to move forward. We cannot let this election set us backwards, we will march onwards. We are undoubtedly stronger together."

Garance Dore, via Instagram: "My vision of a progressive world, where women and men are finally equals, where racism is a thing of the past, where people of all color and religion and sexual orientation come together in a respectful way, where we work together to change a world and make it a place of healing, of care and attention for others and for our poor planet, that vision just broke down in million pieces at my feet."

Brian Phillips, president, Black Frame: "I feel the creative community will be emboldened to look past commercial gains and focus more on what is good for humanity as well as what is beautiful and innovative. This is a contemplative moment that needs to propel us to stronger action towards real distribution of wealth and equality."

Trey Laird, founder, chief executive and chief creative officer of Laird+Partners: "I believe America is resilient, and despite the uncertainty and divisiveness of this day, the country will have to move forward! The same holds true for American fashion. It's about moving forward. Fashion reflects our times culturally and creatively, but ultimately it is also a business. President-elect Trump is a businessman, and my hope is that he will recognize the economic importance of the American fashion industry, and be supportive of trade policies and initiatives to keep it vibrant globally."

Ed Filipowski, president, KCD: "I am overwhelmed with emails from clients and friends in the industry worldwide expressing shock and devastation at the outcome and concern of the effect on world markets and consequently our industry, particularly retail. But my reaction is much more human and instinctual, as to have been so proud to be living my adult life in America at such a liberal time to now anticipating a new order with underlying hatred, prejudice and no respect for the truth. And I really can't bear the thought of that Kellyanne Conway in my face for four more years."

Stephen Gan, editor-in-chief of V Magazine and VMAN and creative director of US Harper's Bazaar: "We need to be strong, and continue what Hillary started. We at V have always believed in fashion as a force for affecting change, and making a difference in the world. We need to use this as a reason to work harder for the values we believe in, to be braver, and push ourselves even further creatively. With this election, we've seen some the ugliest behavior that this country has to offer. It's our job now to remind people of how beautiful it can be."

Shane Gabier and Chris Peters, co-founders of Creatures of the Wind: "This isn't the first struggle, and it likely won't be the last, but as Hillary said this morning, our nation's best days are still ahead of us. We are hopeful for the country, and hopeful for American fashion. We all just have to stick together and move forward."

Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder and designer of Pyer Moss: "Trump being elected just exposed how many people in this country have a strong disdain for the advancement of women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. The majority of the people who make up the fashion industry are a part of these minority communities and will feel betrayed by this election. The progressive thinking, socially liberal people in this country are again the underdogs. For American fashion, it can mean a sharp decline in revenues as many try to evaluate their next steps and priorities. With Trump's proposed sanctions on foreign import and repeal of NAFTA, businesses abroad might be a hesitant to pick up American brands. After the initial shock we are all feeling wears off, this can possibly normalise. It's a scary time."

Leandra Medine, via Man Repeller: "It's my belief that the human spirit responds better to community than it does to resistance, so for a minute this morning, let's set him aside. Let's put our hashtags down and remember that we — a large, inclusive number of individuals — are in this together. That we have each other and that it has never been so clear why we need each other. Of course we won't forget how far we've come, but we also won't deceive ourselves into thinking it's far enough. So hear, hear, to us."

Andy Dunn, founder and CEO, Bonobos, via Medium: "I'm not saying you have to like it, but if you love this country, it may entail accepting this is the nature of things — that this dualism may be the engine by which this country, lurchingly and eventually, moves forward."

Hari Nef, model, via Twitter: "I would never run for public office in a country so full of hatred for people like me."

Jennifer Hyman, CEO, Rent the Runway, via Twitter: "This shows that this race isn't about economic disempowerment- it's about racism."

Mazdack Rassi, co-founder, Milk: "I believe long term we will be ok. This is a major set back in policy. American fashion will lose some of its shine due to the shock of this election. But we will bounce back. We are still the most important market for apparel in the world. Our fight now is to control the damage for the next four years."

Mortimer Singer, CEO, Marvin Traub Associates: "I believe there will be a short period of volatility but the US has the unique ability to dusting itself off and forging on."

Mickey Boardman, editorial director, Paper, via Twitter: "I'm heartbroken but deep inside all I've got to fight with is a belief that we can achieve justice & equality for all. I got that and LOVE."

Amy Odell, digital editor, Cosmpolitan.com, via Twitter: "This election is being characterized as a victory for white men but honestly how is it a victory for anyone. WHO is going to be better off?"

BryanBoy, fashion blogger, via Twitter: "Today, more than ever, we the minorities, women, LGBTs, blacks, muslims, Asians, need to rely on the media to defend us from white supremacy."

Stella Bugbee, editorial director, The Cut, via Twitter: "Important to remember that a lot of people DIDN'T vote for Trump, even if the state maps on TV look so overwhelmingly red."

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