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US election fashion
Natalie Westling, taken from the Autumn 2014 States of Independence issue of DazedPhotography Roe Ethridge, styling Robbie Spencer

How this election jolted fashion into action

From Supreme to Marc Jacobs and Vogue, designers and publications alike have stood up and spoken out

Never in recent years has an election been quite as polarising as the one that culminates today, and fashion – usually one industry that tends to keep out of explicitly political affairs, save for past Obama-rallying – has not been exempt from its whirlwind. From social media campaigns to all-out endorsements, the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman said it best when she declared that “The campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump have galvanised the industry to an extent never before seen.” In short: this election has struck a chord.

Vogue magazine, the quintessential American fashion bible, led the way by endorsing Hillary Clinton back in October, a first for the 124-year-old publication. The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, has been known to rally significantly for her candidates of choice – the Democratic ones – hosting fundraisers for President Obama last time around (and Clinton this time), and sporting a Hillary Clinton tee to various events, including Marc Jacobs’ fashion show in February. Nonetheless, the publication’s pro-Hillary stance – and its taking of any official stance at all – is significant. With a voting-themed cover for its November issue, Vogue’s endorsement stated, in part:

“Editors in chief have made their opinions known from time to time, but the magazine has never spoken in an election with a single voice. Given the profound stakes of this one, and the history that stands to be made, we feel that should change. We understand that Clinton has not always been a perfect candidate, yet her fierce intelligence and considerable experience are reflected in policies and positions that are clear, sound and hopeful. Two words give us hope: Madam President.”

“Whether it comes to feminism, immigration, LBGTQ rights or any of the other issues Trump has questionable stances on, the fashion industry has found refuge with Clinton.”

Since then, Vogue’s fellow Conde Nast-owned publication, W, endorsed Clinton in its November issue letter from its editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi, entitled, “W is With Her.” Cosmopolitan has posted several photos of Clinton on Instagram – where her #ImWithHer hashtag has been used nearly 700,000 times (she is, apparently, a more successful social media candidate than Trump, with an organic reach of 178,789,439 compared to his 27,468,666). The Democratic candidate has appeared on Glamour’s feed, and Marie Claire’s, too.

American-based fashion brands and designers, including Marc Jacobs, Jason Wu, Altuzarra, Public School and DKNY’s Dao-Yi Chow & Maxwell Osborne, and Rag & Bone’s David Neville & Marcus Wainwright, have contributed t-shirt designs to Clinton’s campaign store, which raises money for the presidential hopeful’s efforts. Streetwear mecca Supreme, not a total stranger to politics – it did, after all, sell a “F*ck Bush” sticker in the mid-2000s – has also endorsed Clinton. Prabal Gurung, a very vocal Clinton supporter, designed a custom “I’m With Madam President” suit and cape for Katy Perry, who performed at Clinton’s recent rally in Philadelphia. Otherwise, brands including Calvin Klein, Diane von Furstenberg and Vera Wang have all reportedly contributed money to her campaign, and Opening Ceremony staged a powerful Pageant for the People event with speeches at their NYFW show.

Whether it comes to feminism, immigration, LBGTQ rights or any of the other issues Trump has questionable stances on, the fashion industry – one which, anecdotally, has a significant amount of both women and LGBTQ workers – has found refuge with Clinton. And as Tonchi noted in his endorsement: “Just in case you were wondering where I stand: This election, like no other, is about a clear, moral choice. Our children will have to live with the consequences of our decisions, so…I’m with her!”

Of course, not all brands have been so forthcoming with their approval of Hillary, but for those seemingly confident enough that they will not alienate consumers by publicising their political leanings – or maybe even more likely, opting to take the risk in order to join this important discussion and do what they believe is right – fashion industry insiders are certainly not staying mum. In the age of Instagram, this makes sense – publications and popular design brands wield widespread influence and the power to potentially sway voters – Vogue, after all, have 4.5x as many followers as Clinton. It seems that this election is just too important – in the eyes of many of the fashion industry’s elite – to sit this one out.