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Artificial Intelligence and Its Impact On The Fashion Industry: Contemporary Legal Considerations | JD Supra

Emily walpole

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With the technological advancements being developed by artificial intelligence (“AI”), a branch of computer science wherein computers and other machines simulate human intelligence processes, AI will provide an avenue for furthering innovation and emerging technologies based upon AI and AI-driven processes. The prevalence of AI is transforming the methods in how companies create products, interact with suppliers and customers, and predict trends, and is being viewed as an increasingly useful tool in a number of industries. One industry that has taken advantage of the use of AI is the fashion industry. The fashion industry has been able to utilize AI in a number of innovative ways through the compilation of data from the Internet and social media to gain insight on quickly evolving fashion trends, identifying what consumers want, assisting in the design process, and collecting data on key features of competing fashion lines and price points. The access to such large amounts of data and the ability to synthesize that data in an objective and efficient manner is an advantage to companies in the fashion industry, but these developments, even though seemingly beneficial, may create new legal challenges and threats to traditional intellectual property rights and implicate privacy concerns in a way that was not traditionally problematic.

Because the use of AI may raise practical challenges for businesses regarding the ownership of intellectual property rights, the line between human creation and machine-created technologies may become blurred. Understanding the potential legal implications in using artificial intelligence is critical and not something to be overlooked. With these developments, the GFN and commentary on potential implications of the use of AI-generated works is becoming a trending topic among both lawyers and various industries, as this new area of technology creates unique legal questions, namely with respect to intellectual property and privacy issues. Despite these potential legal issues and uncertainties regarding AI, the fashion industry will likely to continue to use AI, as the benefits of AI allow brand owners to remain competitive and will likely play a more expansive role in product development.

Intermingling the Use of Artificial Intelligence and Human Capabilities in the Fashion Industry: Uses of Artificial Intelligence by Fashion Companies

The fashion industry is one example of where AI has been particularly useful in being able to gather and analyze large amounts of data to better address what consumers want. In the age of the Internet and social media, it is more challenging for designers, retailers, and suppliers to predict what consumers want and how to address consumers’s wants in a expeditious manner. Trends in the fashion industry are more rapidly changing with consumer access to the Internet and social media, and not being able to monitor these changes can be a hindrance to companies in this industry where humans cannot possibly process all of the data from individual consumers and entire markets, social media feeds, and customer product reviews. Additionally, it is difficult for humans to not be influenced by their own bias and thought processes.

This is where AI has come in and served to address the fashion industry’s need to predict what individual consumers will buy and quickly monitor trends that the broader public will buy. AI, combined with data available via the Internet and social media, now allows the fashion industry to collect and analyze large amounts of data, which is revolutionary and allows companies to be more responsive to the market and desires of consumers. For example, Burberry, a global and well-known luxury fashion brand, has used big data and AI in order to enrich its customer and sales relationships and as a tool to combat counterfeit products. The company uses big data by encouraging customers through loyalty and reward programs, and Burberry uses this data to offer tailored recommendations for both online and in-person shoppers and as a method to increase sales. Additionally, Burberry is using big data and AI to combat counterfeiters and identify knock-off products through an AI-powered image recognition technology from Entrupy. This technology can determine whether a product is authentic or fake and claims a large percentage of accuracy (99%) in identifying counterfeit items. As a company that is one of the most counterfeited labels in the world, such technology is incredibly valuable to a company like Burberry and allows Burberry to quickly shutdown and implement enforcement measures against counterfeiters.

Another example of companies using AI to deliver innovative experiences to its customers is the creation of “virtual stylist” by Stitch Fix. Relying upon customer input and collaboration with AI and human stylists, the “virtual stylist” uses AI to analyze data on style trends, body measurements, and customer feedback to help the human stylists provide a consolidated list of possible recommendations. Additionally, AI technologies have also been used in the design process. An example of this is Tommy Hilfiger’s partnership in January 2018 with the Fashion Institute of Technology (“FIT”) Infor Design and Tech Lab and IBM on a project called Reimagine Retail. The objective of this project was to show how AI technologies could give retailers an edge of speed in the design process and provide the next generation of retail and design leaders with new skills to use AI in the design process. The FIT students created new designs for the Tommy Hilfiger brand using IBM research AI tools and a library of designs from past collections of Tommy Hilfiger designs. The AI provided fabric patterns, colors, and silhouettes that the students incorporated into their designs. Tommy Hilfiger also uses IBM’s AI technology to analyze customer reviews and sales performance for the items offered in its collections, predict upcoming trends, and to aid in the design of its collections.

These examples demonstrate how AI and big data is revolutionizing the fashion industry, but the use of AI and related technologies is not heavily regulated in the United States and poses significant legal implications for intellectual property and privacy issues.

Implications for Intellectual Property Law and Privacy

Despite the benefits of AI for brand owners, the legal implications and issues arising from the growing use of AI in the fashion industry are uncertain and still developing. The use of AI poses legal challenges in the realm of intellectual property rights, where ownership of intellectual property created by or in part by AI is uncertain and where efforts of intellectual property owners can be easily replicated. AI also raises privacy concerns for consumers, where the targeting of individual consumers permeates many categories of data, including personal data, that consumers may not have expected to be the kind of information collected by fashion companies. Companies and their counsel should take into consideration the legal uncertainties of AI, as the development and use of AI increases to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.

AI and Copyright Law

Copyright is particular area that is implicated with respect to the interaction of AI and intellectual property rights, as it raises a potential issue of ownership. A key feature of AI being used by the fashion industry that raises copyright questions is the use of AI to generate fabric patterns, colors, and silhouettes. To the extent that AI-generated designs include contributions from both a human and a machine, the question is whether the design is jointly owned or is solely owned by the human who contributed to the design.

At present, there is no clear protection for fashion designs created using AI under U.S. copyright law and no specific law that addresses the ownership of works created by machines. However, the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices specifically has a human authorship requirement in section 306, which states that “[t]he U.S. Copyright Office will register an original work of authorship, provided that the work was created by a human being. . . . [T]he Office will refuse to register a claim if it determines that a human being did not create the work.” It is not clear how much AI involvement in a design would be required before making a design ineligible for copyright protection, and no current case law in the United States addresses this issue with respect to AI. Notably, the human authorship requirement was recently discussed in a claim of animal authorship made in what is now referred to as the “monkey selfie” case, Naruto v. Slater, where the Ninth Circuit ultimately held that the monkey lacked standing to sue under the Copyright Act as animals are not authorized to file copyright infringement suits under the Copyright Act.

This area of intellectual property will likely be a key issue for the fashion industry with respect to the use of AI technologies in that it may impact the originality threshold required for copyright protection and implicate the human authorship requirement. If such AI-generated designs are not entitled to protection, these designs may more vulnerable to copying and harm fashion companies and brands in the future and raise complicated issues of what can constitute infringement for designs created in part or in whole by AI.

AI and Trademarks and Counterfeiting

Although AI may present legal challenges and uncertainties, AI has offered positive developments for brand owners in the area of trademarks and counterfeiting. Certain AI technologies can offer image processing capabilities that can be used to identify potential infringement and verify the authenticity of a potential counterfeit good. One example, used by Burberry, is a service offered by Entrupy, which offers a machine learning app to detect counterfeit fashion items based upon a database of authentic luxury items and was launched in 2012. This service claims to have a 99.1% accuracy rate and has taken data samples from the last 80 years through the present in order to identify fake versus authentic items. Another service provider, DataWeave, launched a Counterfeit Products Detection solution in 2018 to enable brands to detect and reduce the presence of counterfeit goods on e-commerce websites using AI-powered image and text analytics. DataWeave also offers a suite of products that include retail intelligence services and brand analytics. These two examples of AI-powered services and technologies demonstrate how the use of AI can benefit brand owners, particularly in identifying and curbing infringement and counterfeiting activities across the Internet and around the world.

As these technologies become more widely used by companies in the fashion industry and further refined, AI will be a valuable tool in being able to address and identify infringement for global brands and reduce losses from counterfeiting, while minimizing costs of investigation efforts and enforcement of potential infringers and counterfeiters.

AI and Privacy

An area of concern that has arisen with respect to the use of AI in the fashion industry, and across businesses using AI generally, is the impact AI technologies may have on privacy. Many AI technologies collect a large amount of consumer data that is used by companies to adapt to the market, identify trends, track competitors’ activities via the Internet and social media, and improve consumer experiences and target consumer demands. However, consumers may not be aware of just how much information is being collected from the Internet, and fashion retailers and designers may not be unaware of the privacy law issues that are implicated in the collection, processing, and use of big data and AI.

Although there is no federal regulation or law in the United States that addresses consumer data privacy, a number of states, such as California, have passed consumer privacy laws that impose specific duties on companies or individuals collecting data and also includes provisions that address individual consumer rights. A regulation to be mindful of, particularly for global brands, is the recently enacted General Data Projection Regulation (GDPR) that governs the collection, use, transmission, and security of data collected from any residents of the European Union, which entered into force in May 2018. It is important to be mindful of these kinds of laws and regulations in order to for companies to make certain to put appropriate measures in place and protect consumer data and ensure that consumers give their fully informed consent on all information gathered.

Conclusion

There use of AI and big data has been extremely beneficial in allowing fashion companies to better address market demands, improve relationships with consumers, and use social media and other platforms to increase sales and provide a more interactive experience. Given the rapid development of AI and use of big data, the fashion industry will continue to find new applications for the use of AI. However, the implications and challenges of AI, which is still largely unregulated in the United States, may continue to raise new legal issues, but the law will have to address the intersection of AI with intellectual property and privacy issues to avoid threats to innovation and better define the parameters of ownership and protection of intellectual property and data.

Fashion

NFL Fashion Review Week 7: Cam’s Hat Had Its Own Luggage, Julian Edelman’s Mom Jeans, And Tom Brady’s Gun Show

Emily walpole

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Week 7 of the NFL season meant a lot of different things for a lot of different teams, many of which are already thinking about next season, but of utmost importance going into Sunday was knowing it was the last Sunday in October, also known as National Tight Ends Day, something that was birthed a year ago by National Tight Ends Committee Spokesman, George Kittle.

So was it simply a coincidence that Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson caught the game-winning, walk-off TD to beat the Falcons by a single point? It’s the freakin’ Lions, so I tend to THINK NOT. Shit like that never happens to them, like, ever.

On an entirely different note, Mike Tomlin was in his quote bag again, this time making him the most relatable human in the NFL. “I can’t see past lunch” is a line that has stuck with me ever since the above tweet was posted and I’ll be using it for the foreseeable future.

“Hey man, any way you can hook me up with a ride to the airport on Friday?”

“Bro, honestly, I don’t even know right now. I can’t see past lunch.”

This is how I envision it going and there’s just nothing you can say back to that to sustain any kind of dialogue.

MISSING IN ACTION: Gone this week were the Vikings, Dolphins, Colts, and Ravens. What did that mean for us? No uncomfortable, awkward ensembles from that weirdo Kirk Cousins that have been going on since the beginning of time.

Unfortunately, it also meant no showstopping fits from Lamar Jackson and other Ravens, like Hollywood Brown and Marlon Humphrey.

Given that we just wrapped Week 7, save for the MNF game, you should know the drill by now: Whether it’s fire, fierce, funny, or FAIL, let’s get this unsanctioned rodeo started with the unwavering spirit of Jimmy from Yellowstone.

 

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman is wearing a turtleneck that’s tucked into a light pair of jeans that appear to be hiked up well past where they should actually be. Imagine if it had been warmer out and he didn’t need the jacket? Jules would look like an SNL cast member playing an uppity, tech-turned Ellen Degeneres who’s about to unveil the new iPhone at an outdoor Apple Event.

George Kittle

If you’re asking yourself why it seems like George Kittle is constantly telling himself a joke, it’s probably because he is. To no surprise, George decided to celebrate National Tight End Day — and the win — by wearing Breaking T’s official National Tight End Day t-shirt and answered each question like a kid who was just handed a free pass to the world’s largest bouncy castle.

Travis Kelce

All black everything with the exception of the animal print coat is definitely a statement, something Travis Kelce excels at with ease. And going with leather pants? Yup, the Chiefs are the defending champs and sure as hell know it.

Kyle Rudolph

The Vikings didn’t play this week but AGAIN, it was #NationalTightEndsDay. Simply could not leave out one of the best in the game and the one member of the Tight Ends Society who makes a concerted effort to dress to the nines in a classy way every single week.

Hunter Henry

To round out #NationalTightEndsDay, Hunter Henry flipped the script on all of his fellow grapplers and ended up looking like a guy headed to the airport to meet his BrewBros for a four-day weekend of some golf and strippers in Myrtle Beach.

Tom Brady

The Tom Brady gun show??? Because I definitely see a vein popping out of a bicep there, a bicep that’s never been existent in his entire 86-year career. He’s gotta be either carrying something very heavy or purposely flexing hard knowing the team photographer is right there. I’m going with the latter, A) because TB12 loves himself some TB12 and B) because in the tweet below his arm is back to being the regular old noodle we’ve come to know.

Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson teetering the line here between a jacket that fits and a jacket that’s about to explode. It’s completely bizarre that Russ looks bigger in plain clothes than he does when he’s all padded up in full uniform.

Cam Newton

Cam Newton’s latest hat had its own mini duffle bag and it’s barely a blip on the radar because we’re talking about Cam Newton, the guy who once had a rabbit foot the size of Utah attached to his jeans. Cam also did a wonderful job on the field too, completing 9 passes to members of the Patriots and 3 passes to members of the 49ers. Very giving and seems delighted! [Yes, he was absolutely benched.]

DeAndre Hopkins

No idea what this is supposed to be. First thought was creepy cat eyes, then moved on to just an overall nondescript weird eyes theme, and finally learned that regardless of whatever this is, the shirt is on sale for $625 and is available in all sizes. You’re welcome!

Baker Mayfield

Yes, Baker Mayfield is wearing a hoodie that could comfortably fit some of the finest globes on the market but the mockery really has to stop there. After starting the game with five incompletions and an interception, Baker went 22/23 for 297 yards and 5 TDs with the lone incompletion being a spike to stop the clock. A+ performance.

Alvin Kamara

The topless press conference will always be hilarious. No, Alvin Kamara does not give a shit.

Matt Ryan

It took seven strenuous weeks but at long last, Matty Ice shrewdly shook off that Merrill Lynch Matty label with a brown suede jacket and matching brown suede shoes. The former King of Bland most certainly got an extensive talking-to from someone who knows what they’re talking about. #HopeFloats

Drew Brees

In his mind, Drew Brees is in a ballroom at the Marriott giving a keynote speech to a bunch of people in pharmaceutical sales.

Odell Beckham Jr.

OBJ got hurt and that sucks. What does not suck is OBJ’s suit and accompanying chains that just about match his hair color. When this guy keeps it a little more simple, he’s a beast.

DK Metcalf

Oh, it’s true. It’s true. Sorry, Jarvis. You had an exceptional run.

Deshaun Watson

Draped in black, this is the face of a man whose team is 1-6 and who is seeing directly through the souls of every person asking him why his team is so shitty.

Derek Carr

Derek Carr went full Miyagi/Daniel-san Mode after reportedly being asked what it’s like to play against Tom Brady when he has 17 different elite offensive weapons at his disposal.

Patrick Mahomes

“No Shades Patrick Mahomes” is the worst version of Patrick Mahomes. Mystique just vanishes.

Aaron Rodgers

Remember last week when the Packers got destroyed by Tom Brady’s Bucs and Aaron Rodgers showed up to his press conference looking like his pet cat Rudy died? Yeah, well they won this week so it was all smiles for the Packers QB. Shocking!

Andy Dalton

There are times when Andy Dalton’s hair looks so ridiculously orange all I can think about are boneless wings covered in buffalo sauce. This would be one of those moments. Seriously, if you crop out just the hair, that’s a zesty piece of chicken.

Kyler Murray

Loving you too, Kyler. Thanks for the 5 billion fantasy football points.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy GQ floated a really bad interception on Sunday and you could see him smiling right after the play. Kinda weird. Then you get what we have above, which is some kind of robotic version of James Bond adjusting his cufflinks. He’s a tough one to figure out, particularly when photos like the one below come into play.

Michael Dickson

Would never put a kicker this high in the pecking order, but Seattle footer Michael Dickson wearing a tie-dye Seahawks t-shirt that he got for free after opening up a checking account at a local bank is just too good not to acknowledge right away. Now please insert multiple fire emojis right here.

Drew Lock

Broncos QB Drew Lock kicked off his press conference by going for a very obvious pick followed by a close examination of the said pick. This is everything you need to know about how the Broncos-Chiefs game went.

Gardner Minshew

GOAT ALERT. How Gardner Minshew didn’t play football in the mid-70s, we’ll never know.

Robby Anderson

Unless you’re paying me upwards of $10,000 for the day you’ll never catch me wearing overalls. I’d rather roam around Times Square in an Elmo outfit along with the 37 other Elmos that finesse tips out of tourists after taking photos with them.

J.J. Watt

J.J. Watt, as consistently boring as it gets. His presser was hilarious though. After being asked about the performance of Aaron Rodgers, J.J. said No. 12 “threw the ball to receivers and they caught it.” Excellent. Things seem to be going well.

T.J. Watt

It doesn’t take much of an effort at all to completely outdo J.J. does it? Hate to see it.

Jamaal Williams

Jamaal Williams is out of his mind and it seems to be getting better — the insane kind of better — with each passing week.

Daniel Jones

This incredibly disheveled and distraught man outran himself on Thursday night against the Eagles. I repeat, the man outran himself, essentially cheating himself out of a touchdown by running so fast that he lapped his own feet. Not sure such words will ever be uttered again. Unless, of course, Daniel Jones does it again.

Kenny Stills

This one’s on me, guys. I had completely forgotten about Kenny Stills and neglected to check his IG page and instead relied on the Texans, something no one should EVER do. Especially this year. Alas, greatness galore. King stays King, and Kenny is a motherfucking King and has been one all season long.

Billy Turner!

Billy Turner’s fits are well beyond outrageous and I fully expect him to be on stilts and dressed up as some kind of Star Wars-Pokemon-Space Hippie crossover by Week 15.

Joey Slye

Much like the case was for Michael Dickson, I would never put a guy like Panthers kicker Joe Slye up this high unless it was a unique case and ESPECIALLY because I didn’t know who Joe Slye was until this very moment. Accountant up top, Making A Murderer on the bottom. Unreal. This madman is either divided against himself or playing serious mind games with people.

Cam Jordan

Cam Jordan wore a varsity jacket that paid tribute to his journey from Chandler High School in Arizona, to Cal, to of course the Saints. Dude always carries such a great spirit with him. And how about those Jordan V Off-Whites. Fit game THRIVING.

Ryan Tannehill

Ryan Tannehill hasn’t made many appearances here photos of him are rarely if ever made available. But back when he was with the Dolphins this guy always looked the part of someone ready to start a prison-rules brawl in some dump of a pool hall. What a turnaround.

Jordan Poyer

Bills safety Jordan Poyer, on the other hand, looks like someone who was taken straight out of central casting specifically to snap some necks after an intense game of pool.

Za’Darius Smith

The rarely seen shoes that match the shirt that matches the mask. Flawless fashion flow.

Sam Darnold

Sammy dialing up the nips for the ladies and matching his shirt to his… coffee cup sleeve. So very, very Jets.

Myles Garrett

Did Myles Garrett enter the stadium two different times wearing the same jacket but with a different shirt, pants and shoes? My head just exploded.

Logan Wilson!

Cowboy hats have been running rampant in the NFL lately and I have not a clue in the world of what to do about it.

Tommy Townsend (A Freakin’ Punter!)

And another’ one. What an incomparable, unconquerable combination of a cowboy hat and ALL DENIM EVERYTHING. Good god!

Harrison Butker (A Kicker!)

Snooty Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has precisely ZERO time for you and all of your cowboy hat-wearing bullshit.

Josh Lambo (Another Kicker!)

Jaguars kicker Josh Lamb? Or is this an unidentified wrestler who has just entered the building to wreak havoc at WWE’s Hell In A Cell pay-per-view? Because every wrestler that matters right now has this exact hairstyle.

Justin Simmons

A minty winter fresh hoodie for the ensuing colder weather? I’ll take a dozen.

Aaron Jones

Aaron Jones was sidelined for Sunday’s game, although as everyone knows there is nothing — and I mean nothing — capable of stopping the showmanship of El Sombrero. Now for the bad news: That merch link in Aaron’s tweet does NOT include sombreros. Furious!

AJ Dillon

Packers rookie running back AJ Dillon did an outstanding job in filling the colorful void that Aaron Jones routinely brings to the table, he just forgot to wear a hat.

Chase Young

Chase Young is a rookie living on a whole different level and also happens to scares the living shit outta me.

Jarrett Stidham

Is Stidham up next? Who knows. But if so, I can already tell this is gonna be a charisma clinic for the ages.

Terrell Edmunds

If you’re dressing like this in late October you do not belong in Pittsburgh playing safety for the Steelers, you belong in South Beach smoking cigars with Jimmy Butler and sitting by the pool on your off days.

Halloween For The Panthers Rookies

Carolina rookies Derrick Brown and Jeremy Chinn got the Halloween treatment and man did it deliver, especially for Chinn who very much deserves a guest spot on the next season of The Boys.

Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette, the happiest man alive since fleeing the hellhole known as Jacksonville, seen here with the Rolls Royce flex. Christ, the entire Bucs team is just one giant flex. Look at this shit. Tom Brady is a wizard who turns unhappy places into smiling faces.

Jalen Mills

Crazy that the Green Goblin’s glowing green kicks and his jacket that’s peppered with green skulls have managed to take all the attention away — at least for a moment —  from what looks like a matte black Lamborghini Aventador, which goes for well over 400k. And of COURSE, you can see a hint of green in the rims too. Always fucking green!

Some Los Angeles Chargers

What’s with all the car flexes? Sensing a theme here and the best way I can put it is that it feels like they’re crazy-gluing me to a basketball court DIRECTLY under the hoop and continuously dunking right in my face. Unkind! Take your BatMobile and fly it directly up to your ass.

Mike Williams

Oh, come on! But if we’re being real here, the tracksuit matching the mask is pretty sick. I’m just happy his sneakers look stupid.

Kenny Golladay

If I owned a jacket as sleek and flawless as this one I would constantly be smoking cigars WHEREVER I want, WHENEVER I want.

Joe Burrow & Tee Higgins

Joe Burrow still putting in the full pregame attire effort, but man does he look spent. And that’s before playing. SEND. HELP. SOON. Tee Higgins, on the other hand, looks like he’s having a blast rockin’ that increasingly popular upside down Dodgers logo.

CeeDee Lamb

CeeDee Lamb’s chunky “88” emblem chain probably weighs about 15 pounds and you can get a closer look at said emblem in his online store because everyone has an online store. What we really need to find out though is where to procure those yellow kicks.

Bill Belichick

Final Score: 49ers 33, Patriots 6. Yes, Bill Belichick is officially hiding in plain sight.

Chris Banjo

Listen, Cardinals safety Chris Banjo isn’t exactly on everyone’s radar and that’s understandable. However, any time someone — anyone — wears a Merrie Melodies shirt featuring a silhouette of Bugs Bunny, they’ve made the list and that’s final.

Lil Wayne?

Bills DB Tre White with the Lil Wayne cleats! Fucking awesome.

Adrian Amos

A pregame photoshoot in the woods, just as we all drew it up.

Doug Pederson!

Kinda speaks for itself. Doug Pederson is a living legend and doesn’t have a clue in the world of just how legendary he is. We’re going on three years now with this look. He’s doing this ironically, right? Right??

A.J. Brown

I would say A.J. Brown’s amazing hat with that timeless script lettering is, in fact, timeless had it said Houston Oilers rather than Tennessee Titans. But it doesn’t so I can’t and I won’t.

Some Dude On The Texans

Not sure about you, but I find myself about as inspired as the IG comments that were dropped in the post.

Texans IG

Will Redmond

Packers safety Will Redmond wearing a No. 25 Will Redmond throwback jersey. Self-confidence is booming in Green Bay, even for players that no one talks about.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Fuck yeah, shoutout to my boyz Zorro and Darkwing Duck.

Kenny Vaccaro

Titans safety Kenny Vaccaro with a killer bomber jacket, wisely stringing it together with black on black with the hat to match.

 

Kendall Sheffield

It’s a simple formula: You wear Nike SB Dunk Lows, you win the prize. Now, what that prize remains TBD at this time. Sorry, but not really.

Stefon Diggs’ Feet

Stefon Diggs is terrifying.

Demario Davis

Saints-branded, Saints approved. In the infamous and succinct words of DJ Khaled, YOU LOYAL.

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Fashion

‘About Time: Fashion and Duration’ Examines Enduring Styles Since The Met Was Founded

Emily walpole

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“About Time: Fashion and Duration” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute seems somehow fated.

Thursday’s official opening was bumped from early May, due to the museum’s months-long closure due to the coronavirus. First and foremost, “About Time” is a celebration of The Met’s 150th anniversary, and the endurance of fashion. But the coronavirus has given the theme greater relevance and resonance, as much of the world has grown to look at the passage, or shiftlessness, of time so differently as they slog or stride through the pandemic.

During a preview Saturday afternoon, Andrew Bolton, Wendy Yu curator in charge at the Costume Institute, said museum-goers may now be more inclined to look at the show and see what has endured and how that has happened, whether that be in regards to a sleeve, the chemise or the bustle. “The time of the mind is very different from the time of the clock. That is what I thought a lot about, especially in lockdown,” Bolton said.

One of the starting points for the show was the fact that world standardized time was created in the same decade that The Met was founded.

The show’s layout is structured around the sparring concepts of temporality by Henri Bergson and Charles Baudelaire, who coined the term “modernity” and considered fashion to be the hallmark of it, Bolton said. Bergson introduced the concept of pure duration in 1889, believing the past and present coexist in a continuous flow. Baudelaire’s view was the past and present are divisible, with the present succeeding the past.

Set up to reflect 60 minutes of fashion, there are 60 groupings of two ensembles each. Baudelaire’s temporality is presented as a linear, chronological timeline of those fashions from 1870 to the present day, drenched in black to accentuate their silhouettes and the timelessness of fashion progression. Bergson’s temporality consists of 60 interruptions or disruptions that predate or post-date those in the Baudelaire timeline, but often reflect shapes, materials, techniques and decorations that illustrate Bergson’s notion of endurance. Each “minute” has one ensemble reflecting the Baudelaire timeline and a second disruptor ensemble representative of the Bergson one. Black index notches on the bottom edges relate to the Baudelaire timeline and those on the top edge show the Bergson one. What time is it?

The first gallery is dark and somber with the pendulum of an Es Devlin-designed clock suspended and swinging from the ceiling. The white-walled second gallery is covered with mirrors that create a kaleidoscopic look of enduring designer fashion or perhaps a reflection of fast fashion.

Acknowledging how the pandemic has heightened the “About Time” theme, Bolton said the fashion industry has always been driven by time and the exhibit is a way of slowing things down. “Fashion is reflecting this accelerated pace of time with technology and everything being so digitally connected 24/7. But fashion has reflected this need for immediacy and instantaneousness [for a while]. The production of fashion has had to speed up, the circulation of fashion has turned up and the consumption has sped up so some of this is about slowing down,” Bolton said.

With that, he exited the multimirrored second gallery and its innumerable reflections of the garments on display and turned a corner to the finale look — a white Viktor & Rolf made from swatches collected over the years. The design is a nod to sustainability, noting how their couture collections for the past four years have been comprised of surplus fabrics. “I love the simplicity of it. The silhouette suggests a pre-modern year. But apart from that, the act of quilt making and patchwork is about shared labor, community and collaboration. It’s an example of conscious creativity and the need to slow things down,” Bolton said.

An American mourning dress from 1870 the first item visitors will see in the show might do the trick. The choice appears to be a double entendre, given the current tumult worldwide. The elaborate dress is displayed in profile to show its raised-waist, floor-length skirt and bustle. It is exhibited with a 1939 Elsa Schiaparelli black felt evening dress, her then-updated take on the bustle. One of Bolton’s favorite pairings is an American afternoon dress from 1876 paired with Alexander McQueen’s bumster skirt that gives a new twist on the process line. Charles Frederick Worth first designed it for Princess Alexandra of Denmark.

Cristóbal Balenciaga, Jonathan Anderson, Iris van Herpen, Rudi Gernreich, Boué Soeurs, Norman Norrell, Malcolm McLaren, Jun Takahashi, Rei Kawakubo, Marc Jacobs, Gianni Versace, Issey Miyake, Charles James, Georgina Godley, Gabrielle Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, Thom Browne, Kei Ninomiya and Olivier Rousteing are among the designers featured in the show. While some may see a what’s-old-is-new undercurrent or direct design inspiration, Bolton said the show is more about endurance and portraying connections over time such as how the bow motif has endured. Ditto for deconstruction, which the Punk movement created in the Seventies. “It’s about the recirculation of ideas, and the reappropriation of ideas. That’s what the tensions are trying to tease out with the timeline,” he said.

Walking through the exhibit, “what needs to be reflected on is fashion’s dominant ideologies like change, power, class, whiteness. They all need to be addressed, and this is a time when we can do that and have mad ideas,“ Bolton said. “Why doesn’t fashion week happen in one city every year like the Olympic Games? It could be Johannesburg one year that celebrates fashion, rejuvenates a city and decentralizes fashion, and decolonizes fashion obviously. It’s a time to think radically and thoughtfully. What you don’t want to do is think rashly and think quickly. You don’t want to replace one bias with another bias. It’s time for radical change but thoughtful change.”

Referring to the choice of black as the exhibit’s predominant color, he said, “The color black has so many connotations of authority and power, but also chicness and elegance. It’s a meditation on the color black, and also on fashion and temporality.” It’s also appropriate. “Can you imagine if we did ‘Camp’ this year? It would have been a disaster,” Bolton said with a laugh, referring to last year’s Costume Institute exhibit. “This show has a quietness, a reflective and contemplative quality that the show certainly helps with.”

After Black Lives Matter gained momentum, Bolton reconsidered the curation and added more styles from Black designers. The initial plan had been to select iconic pieces or the most quintessential silhouette of a specific period on a timeline. “I wasn’t thinking about race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality. I was really looking at it purely aesthetically. Black Lives Matter made me realize it can’t not be. When you work on any show going forward, it has to be part of your intellectual framework. It has benefited the show tremendously,” Bolton said.

He was “thrilled” to add an ensemble from Hood By Air’s Shayne Oliver. “Shayne’s tricky to get a hold of because he’s such an independent thinker. He has so many interests. We’ve tried to work with Shayne in the past and his interests have been elsewhere. It’s been lovely to work with him,” Bolton said.

A Stephen Burrows black dress with lettuce edging in red top stitching was another addition after Bolton found it on 1stdibs last summer. Another non-museum find that is displayed is a Patrick Kelly dress that is embellished with a heart-shaped motif. That one was procured on Etsy. The Met has pieces from Burrows and Kelly. However, major museums have been criticized for their limited archival work from Black designers.

Off-White’s Virgil Abloh was part of the initial roster for the Louis Vuitton-sponsored show. A long-sleeved black dress imprinted with “Little Black Dress” in white lettering that he designed is presented with one from Coco Chanel.

Working from home last spring had its challenges, since using the museum’s database doesn’t give you a sense of proportions or color, Bolton said. Being homebound had upsides, too. “It allowed me to respond to current events, which I would have never done otherwise. That’s been a huge plus,” he said.

The antithesis of that may be Bertha Black Lewry’s 1943 dinner suit that was re-created from a man’s tailcoat suit from 1929. The repurposing was done in response to the U.S. restrictions on textiles at that time and Harper’s Bazaar tasked the designer with the repurposing challenge. Lewry’s look is partnered with a Martin Margiela broadcloth and silk satin jacket from 2000. Nearby, another type of fashion endurance is on view — a Madame Grès gown that a client commissioned, after visiting her in Paris during the war to reassure her that couture was thriving. As fashion shifts more to sustainability, longevity is a key aspect, Bolton said.

Eighty-five percent of the items are from the museum’s permanent collection, more than 10 percent were gifts from designers in honor of The Met’s anniversary and there were a few loaners, such as a Saint Laurent “Broken Mirrors” evening jacket that paid homage to the one Schiaparelli created decades earlier, using panes from hand mirrors that evoked Versailles’ “Hall of Mirrors.”

The Met, like many global cultural institutions, is dealing with significant economic challenges after months of being closed. It reopened two months ago with advanced ticketing and 25 percent of its normal capacity. A number of visitors were milling around the second floor on Saturday afternoon but weekday traffic is said to be more sparse. While “About Time’s“ opening was postponed for five months, The Met Gala was canceled altogether this year. Already at work on next year’s Costume Institute show, Bolton had to juggle his time between that and “About Time.”

Wall text has intentionally been kept to a minimum and printed guides are obsolete due to COVID-19. For the first time, visitors can use a QR code to access a body of text on their smartphones that can also be read before or after.

Knowing travel restrictions and health concerns will keep many would-be visitors from walking through The Met’s Fifth Avenue doors, a video has been created of the exhibit for its site. There are other digital and audio additions. Upon entering “About Time,” visitors will hear Nicole Kidman’s voice hauntingly reading from Virginia Woolf’s “Orlando.” Woolf serves as the ghost narrator with time-centered quotes from her books featured throughout the show. The author’s changing view of time from the chronological to one centered on inner duration is what Bolton would like gallery-goers to leave with.

Kidman isn’t the only Oscar-winning actress, who lent her voice to the museum. Her costars from “The Hours” Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore also chimed in. After cooking up the idea to pipe into the galleries Philip Glass’ music from the film, Bolton wondered if the three lead actresses would be game. Streep was the first to oblige, recording her reading in her kitchen with a clock ticking in the background. Nervous about getting Kidman and Moore, who were busy on location with projects, Bolton said. “It was Meryl, who said, ‘Why don’t you ask them to record it into their iPhones? It will be easier for them and they won’t have to go to a recording studio.’ That’s how they did it. That’s what you’re hearing. So, thanks Meryl.”

Another stroke of synergy came from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Cunningham, who penned a short story titled “Out of Time” for the “About Time” catalogue. His book “The Hours” inspired the film.

Not everything ran like clockwork, though: Bolton had wanted to stage the exhibit as a maze and lined up Es Devlin, the artist and lighting designer, to design one. After word came back that the fire department would not approve, Bolton decided to do a clock instead and Devlin scrapped the maze model and went to work.

If the literal ticking of her clock feels a little like Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis,” that’s not by chance. “Standardized time is so connected to the ideology of modernity, which ‘Metropolis’ is all about. Fashion, to me, is the purest expression of modernity, and ephemerality, change and progress. More than any other art form, fashion is able to turn so quickly. That’s what’s so nice to walk around it [the pendulum] — you see emphatically the Fifties, the Thirties, the Twenties. It just takes you right there.”

Sometimes revisiting the past is not well-received. Although John Galliano, who remains a controversial figure in fashion, is one of the few featured designers to have more than one selection, Bolton said he wasn’t concerned. “If you look at John’s work from the Nineties, his Masai or Orient Express collections for Dior, the cultural appropriations read so different now. I was looking at the coverage of John’s work during that period. There was not one mention of cultural appropriation, whereas now that would be a story.”

Describing Galliano as “a technical genius,” Bolton is interested in doing an exhibit that looks back at designers’ approaches to controversial collections as well as people’s reception. Galliano’s personal actions have also made him controversial, namely due to a videotaped anti-Semitic rant for which he was sentenced in France and later apologized for.

Bolton said, “It’s hard because you could go through the whole museum and look at artists’ [work] with controversial backgrounds or issues. I think what we have to do is perhaps to play it forward to address them all and contextualize them all. I am not a great fan of taking things out of history. I’d much rather have an exhibit and address issues. If we are able to have an exhibit down the line and globally, I do think that’s important, for sure.”

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Fashion

4 Designers Share Why They Created Voting Merch in 2020

Emily walpole

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Unless you live outside of the United States or off-the-grid, it should come as no surprise that the next presidential election is at the forefront of the minds of millions of Americans. And while some may gaff at the idea of a fashion site getting into politics, the truth of the matter is that fashion is political—it always has been.

On a larger-scale, the fast-fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. Historically, fashion has played a role in every civil rights movement, including the Women’s suffrage movement. And on an individual level, it impacts how transgender and disabled, and every other marginalized community member approaches personal style. Don’t get me wrong here, fashion is fun; but to deny how it impacts every part of society is naive. As the industry has reckoned with its complicity towards racism and ecological impact; it’s time it also assesses and redefines its role in standing up for its consumers’ beliefs through politics. 

Of course, in many ways, the fashion industry has already stepped up to this moment with the boom of voting merch. From Christian Siriano’s spring 2021 runway show with looks splashed in the word “Vote” to Stuart Weitzman’s 5050 vote boots, there are so many chic ways that voting has been stitched into the current cultural conversation. But the question remains: How can we know if a fashion brand isn’t just hopping on creating voter merch to profit from off conscious consumers?

In search of that answer, we spoke with four designers in which activism is baked into their brand ethos on why they decided to design merchandise to promote voting. Ahead, you’ll see why it’s more important than ever for the fashion industry not only to take a stand. Sure, a t-shirt won’t solve everything, but encouraging consumers to shop and vote according to their values come November 3, and every election day to come is a start.

Aurora James, Founder & Creative Director of Brother Vellies; Founder, Fifteen Percent Pledge

What inspired you to create merchandise for Brother Vellies to help get out the vote in 2020?

AJ: I stand by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I believe they will restore and unite the soul of our nation. These items are an offering, a blend of our collective hope, passion, and belief in a world that can look a lot brighter than it is today; this sweatshirts, sneakers, and socks from Brother Vellies is one small way I can energize people to get out there and vote for this ticket.

Why do you think it’s crucial for your brand to promote voting this year through clothing?

AJ: This is a crucial year; there’s so much at stake. I don’t think it’s vital that it be promoted through fashion, but it’s one way that I know I can help raise awareness and funds for important causes.

There’s a common misconception that fashion isn’t political—do you agree or disagree? And why?

 AJ: Fashion has never not been political. From women beginning to wear pants and flat shoes to burning their bras to Michelle Obama committing to wearing so many American designers, fashion has always had a voice. I am lucky to have a very engaged community, and I think with that opportunity, it would be irresponsible for me not to speak out about my beliefs. I have chosen to align my brand with specific values, and that alone can be political.

What duty do you feel the fashion industry has to address what’s happening in politics and the world?

AJ: I wouldn’t tell others what to do, but many of us have a strong voice and dedicated communities ready to listen to what we say. Why not use that voice to encourage voting?

We’ve seen many brands jump on the voting merch bandwagon; how do you think we can ensure that these collections have long-term positive implications?

AJ: The exciting thing is that voting is always important, not just during the Presidential elections. Voting is a luxury, a luxury that is unfortunately not accessible to everyone. We should all exercise the right to vote during the mid-terms and local elections as well

When it comes to the future of fashion, do you think consumers will care more and more about conscious fashion?

AJ: I think these times we’re living in have influenced how people spend their money now. It is no longer business as usual. Consumers are giving real thought to how they use their purchasing power, and they want to spend money with companies who are thinking about more than the bottom line. As an industry, I hope that we continue to evaluate what business as usual looks like and start thinking more about our supply chain, how we are treating the people we work with, and what imagery we are putting out there to inspire people to shop. Many of what we have seen in the past are images that inadvertently make people feel less than, and I think we should try to focus instead on uplifting our community to feel like the best versions of themselves. That is what meaningful change looks like.

In what ways have you seen personal style and political statements intersect over the past few years?

AJ: I think it’s great to see so many people wearing items with political statements with ease.

Are there any specific politicians you think are using their fashion or beauty choices to communicate their beliefs thoughtfully?

AJ: We should evaluate our politician’s beliefs on more than just their fashion or beauty choices.

A portion of every pair sold goes towards When We All Vote. A non-profit, nonpartisan organization on a mission to increase participation in every election and close the race and age voting gap by changing the culture around voting.

Alexandra Waldman, Co-Founder, Creative Director, Universal Standard  

What inspired you to create merchandise to help get out the vote in 2020 for Universal Standard? 

As a brand built upon access and inclusivity, we feel compelled to use our platform to contribute to the conversation around voting and support efforts to expand access to the ballot box. It’s a way for all voices to be heard and counted. It’s also a way for us to enact change and be active in constructing our future. Since we are a fashion brand, it made sense to include our “ALL OF US. AS WE ARE” tag line to create the Vote With US capsule collection.  

Why do you think it’s crucial your brand promotes voting this year through clothing? 

As a mission-driven brand, we have an opportunity to use our platform to encourage voting and focus attention on this historic election. Voting is essential for all of us and is the ultimate expression of inclusion. The same goes for your clothing choices and style. As a company that strongly believes in inclusivity, this choice was obvious for us. 

What duty do you feel the fashion industry has to address what’s happening in politics and the world? 

Fashion is a language, a voice, and often – a declaration of belief. A fashion brand has access to multitudes through multiple platforms. Few brands these days are fiddling while Rome burns. Whether it’s pressing national politics, the environment, labor practices, gender politics, access, or the fundamental physical safety of those working in the industry, it is unconscionable not to have a perspective and a roadmap to improvement.

There’s a common misconception that fashion isn’t political—do you agree or disagree? And why? 

Of course, fashion is political! It is both a force and a reflection of the times and the changes happening in the world. Think of the miniskirt, punk rock, the preppy era; all reflect changing socio-political tides and have a direct connection to shifting norms, acceptances, and forms of protest.  At the moment, all you have to do is look at the number of brands producing campaigns and products to raise awareness and funds around voting. It is quite literally clothing manifesting a political conscience.

Why should people in fashion care about politics? How are they related in your eyes? 

The relationship could not be more fundamental. ‘People in fashion’ are people first and foremost. It isn’t possible to be a citizen of the world in our time and not care about the changes in politics affect. To share information locally, nationally, and globally to promote our planet’s health and the dignity and rights of all of us is not just the responsibility of our industry but an enormous privilege.

In what ways have you seen personal style and political statements intersect over the past few years? 

Everything is political, and at the very least, we all participate by voting with our wallets. What you wear and who you buy from has a political impact and actual bearing on social change. 

We’ve seen many brands jump on the voting merch bandwagon; how do you think we can ensure that these collections have long-term positive implications? 

This is about being heard— about adding to the voice for change. Regardless of who ends up in an office, our work ensures size equality, access, diversity, and representation continues. As you rightly pointed out, one timely collection rarely does anything to move the needle. We are continually working on projects with partners who see things as we do. We are always thinking of ways to break barriers, unite the divided, and give back to our community. 

Can you remember what you wore the first time you voted? And even if you’re voting by-mail, will you have an election-day ensemble this year? 

I will be watching everything unfold before, during, and after the election, wearing the Universal Standard Vote With US sweatshirt and joggers. 

When it comes to the future of fashion, do you think consumers will care more and more about conscious fashion? 

Absolutely, as a brand, we are very well aware of ‘fashion waste,’ and ‘fast fashion’ is one of the industry’s biggest problems. This is why we launched our sustainability initiative Reset, Recycle, Refresh in September. The initiative encourages consumers to shop smarter by recycling their old clothing through an exchange for a discount. We partnered with Marimole, which specializes in recycling textile waste. The initiative was very well received within our community and introduced the brand to a new impact-driven consumer base that is very aware and ecoconscious.

Are there any specific politicians you think are using their fashion or beauty choices to communicate their beliefs thoughtfully? 

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand wore a headscarf after the Christchurch mosque attack to console her country’s Muslim community. She is not Muslim, and she was merely wearing a scarf, but the impact, empathy, and show of defiance and solidarity was epic at that moment!

Suzanne Lerner, Co-founder, and President of Michael Stars

What inspired you to create merchandise to help get out the vote in 2020 for Michael Stars? 

SL: Michael Stars has always been a purpose-driven brand. Through our foundation, we’ve consistently supported causes and organizations that work towards bettering society and amplifying women & girls’ voices. Voting has always been at the forefront for us. We made voting tees and baby onesies back in 2018 for the midterms and this year we were so excited to partner with Gloria Steinem for the #TheTeeInVote capsule. 

Why do you think it’s crucial your brand promotes voting this year through clothing? 

SL: Clothing is a way to wear your values and by marketing the importance of voting through the #TheTeeInVote campaign with Gloria, we were able to support and help amplify the work of three incredible, women-led organizations: Black Voters Matter, Voto Latino, and March On. 

There’s a common misconception that fashion isn’t political—do you agree or disagree? And why? 

SL: Disagree! The reality is that fashion is an expression and symbol of our beliefs and passions. It’s at the heart of every major social movement and can send a strong visual message instantly—like a group of congresswomen wearing Suffragette white at the State of the Union this year to draw attention to gender equality, or the invasion of the pink pussy hats in Washington, DC during the Women’s March.

What duty do you feel the fashion industry has to address what’s happening in politics and the world? 

SL: Our industry can lead the way toward gender and racial equality. Only 14% of fashion brands are run by women. That has to change. But, our duty also extends beyond that. Fashion is not just about what the consumer buys and wears. It’s about the complex process involved in producing our collection from design until production. As an intersectional company that employs over 80% of women, we have always been committed to producing in our hometown of Los Angeles, providing workers living wages, health insurance, and more.

Why should people in fashion care about politics? How are they related in your eyes? 

SL: Political and social issues are intertwined with the fashion industry. On the business side, there are issues like import/export duties and tariffs or fair wages and safe working environments. On the consumer side, you may find that your brand is being adopted or co-opted as a symbol for a movement or idea. Because inevitably, every company will land in the middle of a political battle whether they want to or not. That’s why we have been very clear about what Michael Stars stands for.

We’ve seen many brands jump on the voting merch bandwagon. How do you think we can ensure that these collections have long-term positive implications? 

SL: Actually, none of this is really about merch. It’s about committing to being part of positive change. And it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon—one that we’ve been involved in since the start of the company.  We’ve got more motivation than ever to keep up the movement towards racial and gender equality and are hard at work on next year’s strategy.

In what ways have you seen personal style and political statements intersect over the past few years? 

SL: I don’t think a movement can be recognized and become widely known as a movement without fashion. In 2018, there was #MeToo movement which was embraced on Oscar’s red carpet. Last year, we had thousands of women—and men too!—who supported our “Feminism is for Everybody” tee that amplified the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment.

Can you remember what you wore the first time you voted? And even if you’re voting by-mail, will you have an election-day ensemble this year? 

SL: It was the early ‘70s and I was working as a secretary in Chicago. I was either wearing a Gunne Sax floral prairie dress or a striped T-shirt and jeans that I had embroidered. This year, I will be wearing a similar outfit: jeans and a Michael Stars vote tee!

When it comes to the future of fashion, do you think consumers will care more and more about conscious fashion? 

SL: 100 percent. The future is here. I’ve seen a lot of research that says that more than 60% of Generation Z (the kids who are educating their parents on the climate crisis and social justice)  prefer to buy from sustainable brands. That approach has always been part of our DNA, focusing on fabrics like Supima cotton and linen, and making our garments locally.

Are there any specific politicians you think are using their fashion or beauty choices to communicate their beliefs thoughtfully?

SL: There are many activists who’ve used fashion well. As far as politicians, a recent example is Wendy Davis, who is now running for Congress in Texas. She made history in fashion and politics by introducing the pink running shoe to the floor of the Texas State Senate and standing in them for more than 13 hours during her epic filibuster in protest of a bill that contained stiff restrictions on reproductive rights in Texas. What do people remember about her most? Her pink Mizuno tennis shoes!

Sales will benefit incredible grassroots organizations, led by women of color, working to increase voter registration and turnout, ensuring all voices are heard during this critical election: Black Voters MatterVoto Latino, and March On.

Meredith Melling, Co-Founder of La Ligne

What inspired you to create merchandise to help get out the vote in 2020 for La Ligne?

MM: We launched La Ligne in the spring leading up to the 2016 presidential election. As a brand-new brand, we were hesitant to take a stand politically before really getting to know our customers first. But as three female founders who felt very passionately about the election and what was at stake, we decided that La Ligne was a natural extension of us, and we had to get involved. So, we created our limited edition Je Suis Avec Elle tee, which was the first of many politically and philanthropically motivated La Ligne products.

We are days away from one of the most critical elections of our lifetime, so we once again decided to get involved. We teamed up with a friend of the brand and La Bande member, Cleo Wade, to create VOTE masks and T-shirts and donated 100% sales to Fair Fight. A few weeks later, we launched our Je Suis Voter sweater, a nod to our 2016 style, and contributed 30% of sales to I am a Voter.

Why do you think it’s crucial your brand promotes voting this year through clothing?

MM: We cannot message enough about the importance of voting, whether on our products or our website. We partnered with Fashion our Future 2020 and have added a call-to-action banner located on La Ligne’s homepage that allows customers to check voter registration, register to vote, complete the census, and stay informed on upcoming critical dates right on our website. Just as importantly, with all of our voting focused products, we’ve been able to make substantial donations to organizations like Fair Fight, and I am a Voter that is doing critical work to ensure that every person’s right to vote is protected. 

What duty do you feel the fashion industry has to address what’s happening in politics and the world?

MM: I think the fashion industry has influence and reach, and I applaud the brands, content creators, and influencers who use their platforms to call attention to what is happening in politics and around the world.

In what ways have you seen personal style and political statements intersect over the past few years?

MM: I think people are more comfortable sharing their political beliefs, so whether that’s at the dinner table, over social media, or on a T-shirt, people are more forthright.

We’ve seen many brands jump on the voting merch bandwagon. How do you think we can ensure that these collections have long-term positive implications?

MM: When it comes to voting merch, not only is it essential to get the message out, but it’s equally as important to support organizations that are dedicated to protecting voter rights. With our voting initiatives, we donated proceeds from the sales to Fair Fight, and then I am a Voter and believe this is one of the best ways to have a long-term impact.

Can you remember what you wore the first time you voted? And even if you’re voting by mail, will you have an election-day ensemble this year?

MM: This year, I registered to be an election day poll worker, so I’ll be wearing comfortable shoes (it’s a long day! 5 AM – 9 PM) and my Cleo Wade x La Ligne Vote mask.

When it comes to the future of fashion, do you think consumers will care more and more about conscious fashion?

MM:  We saw such an incredible consumer response to our voting merch upon launch. Both the Cleo Wade mask and tee and the Je Suis Voter sweater sold out quickly, indicating an ongoing appetite for fashion that makes a difference through its message as well as its charitable component.

Are there any specific politicians you think are using their fashion or beauty choices to communicate their beliefs thoughtfully?

MM: I certainly loved seeing the sea of white suits and dresses worn by the Democratic women of Congress at President Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address.

For more information on when early voting starts in your state, and to find your polling place head to Vote.Org

A portion of the proceeds will go towards I am a voter, a nonpartisan movement that aims to create a cultural shift around voting and civic engagement by unifying around a central truth: Our democracy works best when we all participate.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to ACLU, an organization committed to creating an equitable voting environment, in addition to promoting civil liberties such as racial justice, and human, LGBTQ, and immigration rights.

This special-edition shirt will support the nonprofit Monumental Women in their efforts to honor the women who paved the way by breaking the bronze ceiling.

All of the net profits from the sale of this style will be donated to the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization I am a voter.

Ten percent of the proceeds from this collection will be donated to Higher Heights Leadership Fund. An organization dedicated to strengthening Black women’s leadership capacity and civic participation.

10% of all hoodie sales will be donated to Fair Fight, a voter advocacy organization started by Stacy Abrams.

All of the proceeds of the Voter Scarf will go towards supporting the nonpartisan movement I am a voter.

Proceeds will be donated to When We All Vote.

A portion of the proceeds will go towards Rock the Vote.

Fifteen percent of the proceeds from this sustainably sourced USA-made tee will be donated to Rock the Vote.

Twenty percent of proceeds will be donated to When We All Vote. 

For every pack sold, 15% of the proceeds will go to I am a Voter.

Opera voting gloves? Take us to the ballot box.

Next: 43 Chic Fashion Items That Promote Getting Out the Vote

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