LONDON, United Kingdom — In the fashion month gone by, apart from all the debate around consumer-facing fashion shows, one of the most discussed topics — particularly between American fashion insiders and their international counterparts — was the unfathomable rise of Donald Trump, candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
"What is going in America with Donald Trump?" went the typical refrain. In response, most American editors and buyers were just as bewildered by what is happening in America as the rest of us.
Now, BoF is not normally a place for political debate and commentary, but when things get to the point we're at now — just months away from the GOP convention, with Trump in the lead for the Republican nomination for President — it's time to speak up. While the election may be for president of the United States, all of us around the world also have to put up with whomever Americans elect.
Blatant racism. Xenophobia. Ethnic hatred. Bigotry. Demagoguery. Are these the words — deeply embedded in Trump's politics — that should be associated with one of the world's greatest democracies? Does Donald Trump really believe what he is saying or is he being provocative to build his personal brand?
Either way, Trump is somehow managing to turn the American political process into a reality show, something closer to his role on The Apprentice or his time as a character for the pseudo-real World Wrestling Entertainment. Just have a look at this video, which has gone viral on Facebook with more than 3 million views, of how he handles hecklers and protesters at his campaign events.
Contrast this with the way President Obama handled hecklers and protesters at a recent event in Chicago. He may not have been the perfect President (is there such a thing?), but at least he respects dissent and disagreement, while also using reason (and a bit of Obama humour) to diffuse the situation, instead of asking security to throw people out and beat them up.
Probably the most short-sighted of Mr Trump's policies (if not the most shocking) is his view on immigration. Trump has regularly made controversial comments about immigrants, particularly those from Mexico or the Muslim world. Let's remember that America is a country of immigrants, and the American fashion industry in particular is built on the work of immigrants and their offspring.
Alexander Wang and Jason Wu are of Taiwanese heritage and Vera Wang and Wen Zhou hail from China. Carolina Herrera was born in Venezuela. Ralph Lauren was born in New York to Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants. Diane Von Furstenberg hails from Belgium. Thakoon Panichgul was born in Thailand. Prabal Gurung is from Nepal. Stephen Gan is from the Philippines. And that's not even counting thousands of garment workers, artisans and other people who make America's fashion industry tick — including Mexican Americans and Muslim Americans.
It is this diversity that makes America stronger. Let's hope that someone like Donald Trump doesn't destroy it. The United States is already in danger of being torn apart by his irresponsible stunts and ignorant comments during the campaign.
America, we're all relying on you to stop the madness.
Imran Amed, Founder and Editor-in-Chief