I’ve seen a lot of things this past week on social media: some things fill me with hope while others have me wanting to leave the country.
While it certainly will not be the largest impact of his election, some of Donald Trump’s views could have serious affects on the fashion industry. From the implications for international designers, to the wavering stability of foreign markets, to the uncertainty retailers on the homefront now face — trade policies are going to play a significant role in the future of American fashion.
Even more, the “industry” is an extremely globalized conglomerate of designers, manufacturers and retailers, as well as a cluster of important voices and perspectives that shape styles and trends. Needless to say, the industry is a fairly diverse one, and some of Trump’s rhetoric has left a bad taste in the mouths of immigrants, minorities and many others. This distaste radiates from the inside out.
Since the first day after the election, Americans have been on-edge, and already evidence of this tension has seeped into the fashion world. Gayletter, a gay men’s publication, threatened via Facebook to boycott designers who choose to work with Melania Trump, calling such collaborations “an admission of support for her husband and his hateful campaign promises.” Taking a similar stance, consumers all across the country tossed and even lit their New Balance sneakers on fire after some remarks made by the company’s VP of Public Affairs, Matt LeBretton, led its customers to believe the brand was pro-Trump.
All boycotts and potential scandals aside, the real upset will come when Americans (and the whole world) know for sure what Trump’s administration is going to do about free trade. As was the true meaning behind LeBretton’s comments, some U.S.-based businesses could thrive in a U.S. market regulated by Trump. Under this new administration, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is not likely to pass. This deal, which would lower tariffs on U.S. imports from some regions, is one that many major companies like Nike, and retailers like Under Armour, have heavily supported.
The potential destruction of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could also be detrimental for retailers. Imports from all over the world are a huge part of the retail industry. Backing out of or drastically changing NAFTA, two things for which Trump has consistently advocated, could make it difficult for some outlets to sell clothing at competitive prices.
Amid the economic uncertainty, the leading voices within the industry have shared a mixed-bag of emotions, from frustration and anger, to fear, to hope. The majority, however, seem to lean on that last part: They are hopeful that, in spite of whatever is to come, the American fashion industry will persevere and the creative minds within the world of fashion will continue to make cultural waves. To quote Tim Banks, editor-at-large of The Business of Fashion, “[I]n a less-than-ideal world, hard times can galvanize 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."
Indeed, whatever lies ahead for American fashion, its future will be nothing if not beautiful.
Kayla Beard is a senior studying journalism with a focus in web design at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. How do you feel president-elect Trump will effect fashion? Let Kayla know by tweeting her @QKayK.