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Politics Is Back in Fashion



Around this time four years ago, the American fashion industry did something it had never done before: It pledged its troth, publicly, and practically unanimously, to a political candidate.

Designers like Joseph Altuzarra, Marc Jacobs, Prabal Gurung and Tory Burch created products to support Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue, and Diane von Furstenberg, then chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, held fund-raisers for Mrs. Clinton. Vogue endorsed her — the first time in its history that the magazine had supported a presidential candidate. So did Cindi Leive, then the editor of Glamour.

Face masks from Studio 189, part of Fashion Our Future drive to raise awareness about voter registration.
Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

Though fashion had traditionally stayed away from politics, fearful that demonstrating any leaning, conservative or liberal, would alienate swathes of potential customers, the promise of a female president was too great for the female-centric industry to resist. Besides, fashion was coming off eight years of the Obama administration, in which Michelle Obama had used her position to raise the profile of American designers, both by wearing a wide variety of brands and by hosting a fashion education workshop at the White House. The expectation was that a special relationship had formed and would continue.

The expectation was wrong.

Shellshocked after the 2016 election, some designers doubled down by announcing they would not dress the new first lady, Melania Trump (who did not, in any case, need their permission to decide what to wear). Since the inauguration, for which Mrs. Trump made an effort to wear American designers, she has largely eschewed local brands for European names. Ever since President Trump took office, the industry has been largely in exile from Washington, biting its tongue and biding its time.

Not any longer. Politics is back in fashion again. But this time around it’s not exactly like the last time around. This time, it’s not so much about accessorizing a specific candidate as democracy itself.

Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times
Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

As the events of the summer — from the pandemic, which shuttered stores, put shows on hold, bankrupted brands and disrupted supply chains, to the killing of George Floyd and the subsequent global protests — have caused fashion to re-examine its systems, the question of its responsibility has come to the forefront. The result is a critical mass of initiatives from designers and retailers, all geared toward harnessing the power of social media, where fashion is a foundational force, to drive civic involvement.

This week, Fashion Our Future, a new initiative focused on encouraging voter registration, goes live. Founded by Abrima Erwiah, the co-creator of Studio 189, a sustainable fashion brand based in Ghana, and Rosario Dawson, the actress, activist and Studio 189 co-founder, it involves a proprietary website full of voting information — and a panoply of related products that will debut during New York Fashion Week.

Virgil Abloh, of Off-White and Louis Vuitton men’s wear, is the creative director, and a virtual roll call of New York fashion names have contributed. Those include Brandon Maxwell, Proenza Schouler, Rachel Comey, Lemlem and Good American, all of whom will sell their products not only under the FOF umbrella, but also via their own platforms, which will include an Action Button to facilitate voter registration. Together, they have a combined Instagram reach of many millions.

Credit…John Taggart for The New York Times

Next week, a project under the umbrella of the When We All Vote organization, co-chaired by Michelle Obama and created in 2018, during the midterm elections, will follow, headed by Mrs. Obama’s longtime stylist Meredith Koop (the woman responsible for the V-O-T-E necklace the former first lady wore for her speech at the Democratic National Convention). Also involved is a creative community making everything from beauty products, like a Liquid Matte from the Lip Bar, to candles to bike shorts. Everything will be for sale in two separate drops on Sept. 9 and Oct. 1 and will have QR codes that can be scanned to allow customers to register to vote.

In between the two drops, on September 26, there will be another initiative created by Dover Street Market, the multibrand emporium owned by Comme des Garçons, also under the WWAV umbrella and in coordination with Ms. Koop. It has enlisted some 25 of its brands and partners, including Marc Jacobs, Hood by Air, Vaquera and Selena Gomez, to make special products for the project. It is one of 19 retailers around the country that will also include QR codes on all receipts to facilitate registration.

Credit…via Democratic National Convention

And that doesn’t include the voter awareness projects of stores including Saks, which will devote its Fifth Avenue windows to moments in voting history and host registration booths inside, Nordstrom, Cos and H & M USA. Or the VOTE merch created by Michael Kors and Stuart Weitzman and outdoor brands like Keen, which is collaborating with the Jerry Garcia family on a #VoteLove shoe and campaign.

“We have seen a huge paradigm shift in the way people get their news and take action,” Ms. Koop said, noting that it had moved “to mediums that are hyper-visual” and where fashion, in particular, was omnipresent.

“Young people especially express themselves through clothes, whether on TikTok or Reels,” said the designer Victor Glemaud, who was an early part of Fashion Our Future. Young people are a high priority for both political parties. (In 2016, around 60 percent of the eligible population voted, according to the United States Elections Project. For voters under 30, turnout was just over 40 percent.)

All of these efforts are being pitched as bipartisan — and certainly, voting is — but given the discourse at the recent Democratic National Convention about the importance of voting, and the conspiracy theories about mail-in voting from the Republicans, and the fact that Ms. Dawson’s partner is Senator Cory Booker and Mrs. Obama is involved, it’s hard not to think this will once again ally the industry to a side.

“Of course, there’s risk,” said Tanya Taylor, the designer who first connected Ms. Erwiah to the creators of the Action Button, and who has made a tote for Fashion the Future. “The easy thing to do is stay as a fashion brand and think only about clothing. That’s the safe move.” But, she said, it was a move that was no longer acceptable.

Ms. Erwiah first started thinking it was time for fashion to get out from behind the parapet at the start of the pandemic. She had noticed the groups forming in the fashion world to advocate for change and felt, she said on a Zoom call from her home, “that it was all meaningless if we didn’t also participate in what is going on right now with the election and our communities.”

She joined In the Blck, a group started by Mr. Glemaud, posing the question of what could be done. She reached out to Ms. Dawson — they have been friends since they were teenagers — who had gotten involved with voter registration when she co-founded Voto Latino in 2004. They realized that National Voter Registration Day was Sept. 22, which happened to be in the middle of the fashion shows, and had a bingo moment.

Mr. Abloh then joined as creative director, and the idea became a reality. “I remember seeing Sean Combs’s Vote or Die campaign on MTV,” Mr. Abloh said. Now he had a chance to encode a similar visual in someone else’s head. In short order they had a logo — a needle and thread stitching out the V in “vote” — a slogan (“Model Voter,” in Mr. Abloh’s trademark quotation marks) and their roster of designers.

“It was time to attach the two: politics and fashion,” said Fe Noel, a designer who was an early part of the initiative and who has made a handkerchief/bandanna that can be worn “around your neck, face, head, whatever, when you go to vote,” she said.

This was also when Ms. Koop started talking to colleagues at When We All Vote about the way the younger generation identified with creative communities and the possibility of moving beyond simply merch to products that inspired action and ownership. Along with Sarween Salih, a friend who had owned an athleisure brand, she began to reach out to a variety of partners.

“I was tired of a gray T-shirt with a logo on it,” she said. “I thought we could do something better.”

That Dover Street Market, a retail emporium owned by a Japanese company, is part of the initiative reflects both how far the idea has spread and how much, said Adrian Joffe, its president, “what is happening in America affects the whole world.”

For some designers the voter push has become the focus of their work. “I probably spend as much time on it as I do Louis Vuitton,” said Mr. Abloh, who has designed a T-shirt for the project. “More even than Off-White — and that’s my own brand.”

Ms. Taylor said she was using her slot at fashion week to create social media-based content around registration.

“We are redesigning what fashion looks like right now,” Ms. Noel said. “We’re at the beginning stage of something new, which, hopefully, involves going in a more meaningful direction.”

In all cases, the goal is to reframe voting — Election Day, and going to the polls — as the shared experience of the year, the way the Met Gala and the Oscars have been in the past. To make it about dress as celebration of democracy, taking an abstract ideal and rendering it easy to access and to put into action.

“Turn up for the turn out!” Ms. Erwiah said. “Everyone is sitting at home in sweatpants. Why not get dressed up for voting? Watch the election like we watch the Oscars. This date could be like the Grammys.”

Ms. Dawson said: “We want people to think: Oh my God, what am I going to wear to the polls?”

Ms. Erwiah added: “There’s no prom, no homecoming, but you can vote!”

Source: – The New York Times

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How RBG's death could radicalize American politics – POLITICO




“It means that we are going to war,” one influential Washington Democrat texted tonight when asked what the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg means. “They do this in the lame duck and I think Americans will rebel.”

The passion is understandable. Ginsburg was the most important and iconic Supreme Court Justice to liberals since Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the court. She was the Left’s Antonin Scalia. Replacing her with an ideological conservative — creating a 6-3 majority on the Court for the right — would have enormous policy consequences, and not just on abortion, but on civil rights, gun laws, regulation and many other issues.

Just a few years ago, when the situation was reversed and Scalia died during the 2016 presidential campaign, Mitch McConnell denied a Senate vote to Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. Ginsburg has been ill for years and Democrats have been dreading the prospect of losing her before the 2020 election is settled.

Within hours of Ginsburg’s death, Mitch McConnell made it clear Democrats fears were warranted. As McConnell had previously signaled publicly, he released a statement declaring, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

There’s some uncertainty about whether McConnell can cobble a majority of his 53 Republicans together to confirm a Ginsburg replacement. But his swift decision Friday night to reverse his 2016 position is likely to be met with two major reactions from Democrats, one short- and one long-term.

In the short term, the loss of the beloved Ginsburg, combined with McConnell’s hypocrisy, and the likelihood of the court shifting to the right, will enrage Democrats, both in the Senate and out in the country. In the Senate, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer will be under enormous pressure to respond to McConnell’s reversal with aggressive tactics.

“The question will be Chuck’s fortitude,” a Democratic strategist said. “He could shut down the Senate. A government spending bill is due in a couple weeks.”

There is a fierce debate about whether a Supreme Court battle motivates liberals or conservatives more. One conservative who supports Biden argued that dynamic favors the Democrats.

“When I heard that Scalia died I was fit to be tied because at that point we were looking at a conservative icon being replaced by Hillary Clinton,” he said. “It was like seeing your life flash before your eyes. It was terrifying. Now the Democrats are experiencing that. It is going to light the liberals on fire.”

Other Republicans argued that Trump already has the support of all the conservatives who back the president because of his court appointments. A fight over the Ginsburg replacement does little to add new supporters. Additionally, Trump’s political weakness this year is among college educated suburban voters, a constituency that is turned off by the idea of the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade.

But in the long-term, McConnell’s decision could have more far-ranging consequences.

“The winner of the election should nominate someone in January,” said John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “Anything else is a gross abuse of the Constitution and democratic principles.”

Since the Garland imbroglio there has been a bubbling debate on the left over how much to tinker with the Senate and the Supreme Court to redress what Democrats see as anti-majoritarian moves by McConnell and Republicans. The debate has pitted institutionalists against procedural radicals. McConnell will embolden the procedural radicals. Democrats are likely to become more united around several reforms that have divided them: ending the legislative filibuster, pushing through statehood for Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico, and modifying the Supreme Court to include more justices.

Not everything in politics hyped by the media is as big a deal as it seems. But RBG’s death is one of those cases where it may be even more consequential than reported. It will certainly alter the makeup of the Supreme Court, but it could also alter the course of a presidential election, transform the Senate, and turbocharge the politics of procedural radicalism.

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Ginsburg’s death could ignite a political firestorm – The Globe and Mail



In this July 31, 2014, file photo, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is seen in her chambers in at the Supreme Court in Washington.

The Canadian Press

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who became a folk hero to the left for her staunch defence of gender equality and civil liberties, died Friday evening. Her death threatens to ignite a political firestorm if President Donald Trump tries to replace her with a conservative jurist less than seven weeks before an election whose outcome might be determined by the court. Such a move would solidify right wing control with a six to three majority.

Ms. Ginsburg, 87, died of metastatic pancreatic cancer surrounded by family at her Washington home, the Supreme Court said.

The President reacted with surprise when informed of her death shortly after finishing a rally in Minnesota. He did not respond to questions on whether he will seek to fill her seat before the Nov. 3 vote.

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Analysis: The loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg adds a new element of bitterness to the political season

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies of cancer at 87

“She just died? Wow. I didn’t know that. You’re telling me now for the first time. She led an amazing life. What else can you say?” Mr. Trump told reporters. “She was an amazing woman.”

Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s Republican majority leader, signalled that an appointment is coming. “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,” he said in a statement. Under the process for appointing Supreme Court justices, the Senate, currently under Republican control, must confirm or reject the President’s choice. The Democratic-run House of Representatives does not get a say.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens to a question as he speaks to reporters after the Senate Republican luncheon on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., September 15, 2020.


Mr. McConnell’s position is an about-face from 2016, when he refused to allow a confirmation vote on Merrick Garland, then-president Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. This held open an empty seat until after Mr. Trump took office and appointed conservative Neil Gorsuch to fill it. Mr. Trump later appointed Brett Kavanaugh, giving the political right control of the court for the first time since the 1930s.

In a statement dictated this week to her granddaughter Clara Spera, National Public Radio reported, Ms. Ginsburg called for Mr. Trump not to appoint another justice before his term expires. “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed,” Ms. Ginsburg’s statement read.

If Mr. Trump makes an appointment, he will almost certainly face a Democratic revolt in Congress and protests from liberal voters in an already deeply divided country. The President has released a list of people he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court, including senators Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton.

The court faces a series of crucial cases in the coming months, including an attempt by Texas and other Republican states to overturn the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Obama’s signature health care law, and several efforts by conservative states to impose more restrictions on abortion.

In this file photo taken on February 24, 2009 Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrives for President Barack Obama address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber of the Capitol in Washington.


The country is currently riven with legal battles over the rules for conducting the election amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There are more than 50 election-related lawsuits across the country, mostly concerning the scope of mail-in voting, with Democrats favouring easier access to the ballot and Republicans seeking to restrict it.

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This raises the possibility that, in the event of a close result, the Supreme Court could have to decide which ballots would be counted in crucial swing states, determining the winner of the White House.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called on Mr. McConnell to follow his own precedent.

Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to reporters about the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg upon arrival at New Castle County Airport after a trip to Duluth, Minnesota on September 18, 2020 in New Castle, Delaware.

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“There is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,” he told reporters in Delaware. “This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That’s the position the U.S. Senate must take today. The election is only 46 days off.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday repeated, word for word, Mr. McConnell’s 2016 statement. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president,” he tweeted.

In this file photo taken on August 09, 1993 Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court William Rehnquist (R) administers the oath of office to newly-appointed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (L) as U.S. President Bill Clinton looks on.

KORT DUCE/AFP/Getty Images

Born in Brooklyn in 1933, Ms. Ginsburg worked as a law professor and advocate for the American Civil Liberties Union before president Jimmy Carter made her a federal judge in 1980. President Bill Clinton elevated her to the Supreme Court in 1993.

She authored important decisions in United States v. Virginia, which struck down the Virginia Military Institute’s policy of refusing to admit women; Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Laidlaw Environmental Services, which expanded the ability of citizens to sue industrial polluters; and Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which allowed states to appoint non-partisan commissions to draw electoral maps in a bid to end gerrymandering.

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Ms. Ginsburg, however, was just as well known for her dissents. These included Bush v. Gore, as well as cases on gender pay discrimination, abortion access and the Voting Rights Act.

She fought four previous bouts with cancer, but repeatedly insisted on remaining on the bench.

Her ardent liberalism and strong writing style gave her an unusually high profile for a jurist. Supporters nicknamed her “the Notorious RBG,” murals of her adorn walls around Washington and one public-service campaign implored the city’s residents to wear masks to protect Ms. Ginsburg from catching the novel coronavirus. At the news of her death, hundreds of mourners gathered on the steps of the Supreme Court Friday night.

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Clark warns of divisive politics, slate candidates during campaign launch – CKOM News Talk Sports



Saskatoon incumbent mayor Charlie Clark is getting a late start on the fall election campaign trail, and he doesn’t like what he’s hearing so far.

Clark warned of division and mistrust creeping its way into Saskatoon’s municipal politics during his campaign launch in downtown Saskatoon Friday.

He said the American-style “politics of fear” have already appeared in the campaign, something he hasn’t seen during his five elections on the ballot dating back to 2006.

“I’ve seen name-calling, I’ve seen attempts to use crises in our community to attract attention on Facebook,” Clark said, offering two examples of negativity he’s seen from other candidates so far.

“When people are driven by fear or the us versus them mentality, it’s much more difficult to pull the community together and find solutions together, and it can create political gridlock if that’s what’s happening within a council or within a community.”

While Clark did agree that a council known for its 6-5 votes under his leadership may not be synonymous with unity, there were no personal attacks, no decisions made to pin councillors against one another or undermine each other.

Clark said he has concerns about fellow candidate Rob Norris’ attempts at organizing a slate of candidates for council.

“As a mayor, you don’t get to decide who you end up with on council,” Clark said before mentioning Norris has actively participated in other council candidates’ campaigns.

“You can make whatever promises you want, but good luck getting (councillors) to vote for your proposals if you make it on the other side.”

Clark said Norris has been door-knocking with other candidates and that “it has the clear indication that there are some allegiances.”

With a collage of his 80 volunteer campaign workers behind Clark’s podium as a backdrop, he drew on his four years of experience and his unfinished business in the future to move away from undermining other candidates and avoiding division to bring people together and last another term at city hall.

Clark spoke of being a champion of Saskatoon’s tech and agriculture, leading an economic growth strategy and a downtown safety strategy as just some of the ways he’s improved life in Saskatoon.

Clark’s mantra for his campaign is to keep people working, keep people safe and to keep strengthening quality of life.

Moving forward, Clark intends to improve infrastructure, keep taxes low while maintaining activities and services and to keep reconciliation, inclusion and sustainability a major focus.

With other candidates looking to axe the new downtown library project, get out of two-year budget cycles and limit or eliminate property tax increases, Clark said undoing years of progress can be dangerous.

“If a mayor or a future council wanted to spend their time, in the middle of a pandemic, revisiting a decision that’s already been there, it will create huge political challenges, potentially financial risk to the city and it’s very unclear if that could legally be undone,” Clark said, pointing to candidates attacking plans for a new library.

The new $134-million New Central Library is controlled by the library’s board of directors, not the City of Saskatoon.

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