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After Roe v. Wade Is Overturned, Fashion Speaks Out

The Supreme Court decision reversed a nearly 50-year-old ruling and ignited fury among activists in fashion.
pro-abortion protesters in front of US Capitol after Roe v. Wade decision
Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision, was overturned, making the right to an abortion no longer a right at the federal level. (Getty Images)

On Friday morning, as much of the fashion industry had its attention turned to Paris for the Spring 2023 menswear shows, the US Supreme Court issued a decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling which determined that Americans had the constitutional right to an abortion. As a result, the right to an abortion will be determined at the state level. The decision, a draft of which was leaked in May, stands in contrast to the fact that the majority of Americans say they support the right to an abortion, according to a Pew Research survey conducted in March.

Fashion has taken up social and political causes at an increasing rate since 2016, after Donald Trump won the presidency, then again in 2020 in an effort to combat racial injustice in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and more recently to show solidarity with the Asian community after an increase in racially-motivated hate crimes. (Much of the fashion community was quieter after a right-wing mob stormed the US Capitol in January.)

Soon after the decision was released, fashion brands, publishers and figures began speaking out about the news. Clare Vivier, an American handbag designer, reposted a statement from former First Lady Michelle Obama on her Instagram, encouraging people to support Planned Parenthood and the United States of Women Reproductive Justice hub. Patagonia published a public blog post indicating the resources it will provide employees for health and parental care. Executives at Dick’s Sporting Goods pledged to “provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to travel to the nearest location where that care is legally available. This benefit will be provided to any teammate, spouse or dependent enrolled in our medical plan, along with one support person,” according to a statement from the company.

Roger Lynch, CEO of Condé Nast, which publishes titles including Vogue, sent a statement to staff saying the decision “is a crushing blow to reproductive rights that have been protected for nearly half a century,” and outlined enhancements to the company’s health benefits, including reimbursement for travel and lodging for employees in need of an abortion, fertility or gender-affirming services. Levi Strauss & Co. issued a statement in which it said, “We stand strongly against any actions that hinder the health and well-being of our employees, which means opposing any steps to restrict access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.” The company pledged to provide grants to the Center for Reproductive Rights and other organisations providing direct assistance to “impacted individuals and communities.”

Gucci and parent company Kering also spoke out condemning the ruling on social media. Last month, when a draft opinion of the decision was leaked, Gucci pledged to provide reimbursement to any US employees that need to travel to access reproductive health care, as well as match employee donations to Planned Parenthood.

“Kering and its brands stand against all forms of violence against women,” read a statement shared on the conglomerate’s Instagram. “We support the freedom of women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.”

Further Reading

This week, the question was more pressing than ever as a US presidential election, which has dominated the divided country’s cultural conversation this year, approached an end.

After a bitterly contested presidential election, the United States remains as deeply divided as ever on everything from politics to race at a time when consumers want the brands they buy to reflect their values, presenting a tricky challenge for business leaders.

The brand’s collaboration with historically-black Morehouse and Spelman colleges was both celebrated and pilloried online. The fate of an ambitious attempt by a mainstream brand to tackle the issues raised in summer 2020 could influence future Black-focused campaigns for years to come.

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