2016: The Year That Politics Made Fashion Brands Pick Sides

You’ve probably had more conversations about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump than you ever wanted to over the past year and in business, this wasn’t always a good thing. 2017 has been the year that politics made many fashion brands pick sides and alienate customers. In fact, in a recent Fast Company article, interviewing a few brands who tackled the confusing landscape of politics in their own way.

Fast Company writes:

“The founders of women’s workwear brand MM.Lafleur also wanted to use their platform to foster community. But rather than staying apolitical, they chose to take an overtly political approach. Two days after the election, when many people were feeling confused and disheartened by the results, CEO Sarah Lafleur sent an email to customers on the company’s mailing list to invite them to share their thoughts and feelings about what had just transpired. Her memo included these thoughts:

As a brand, we exist because we believe that professional women are an overlooked and underserved group. We have always been proud to dress women of all political persuasions, and we staunchly believe that women are most powerful when we come together to support one another.

As a brand, we are not apolitical—how can anyone be?—but we are open-minded, empathetic, and determined to pursue a meaningful conversation with women of all backgrounds and viewpoints. We’re choosing to move forward with hope, optimism, and openness as we pursue our mission of championing and uplifting all professional women.

Now, as ever, we welcome your input on how we can best support you in all that you do.

The email led to a flood of more than 1,100 responses from customers. A few were angry that MM.Lafleur was bringing up politics at all. “You’re a clothing brand,” one said. “You should stay out of politics.” But this didn’t dissuade Lafleur and her staff. And many other customers were grateful for the opportunity to unload their emotions and engage with other women whose views spanned the gamut. “The excessive, overly dramatic response to what was a fair election is absolutely absurd,” one customer wrote. “And for the record, no, I did not vote for Trump. I voted for Hillary. I am just choosing to afford my fellow Americans some respect.” Another said, “I am having a difficult time dealing with the idea that a man who is on record as insulting, degrading, and boasting of the sexual assault of women is soon to be my commander-in-chief. It makes me feel unimportant, unheard, and powerless.”

Read the full article here.