The Women's March fills the streets of Washington on Jan. 21, 2017 .
Monica Jorge—Sipa USA/AP
By Ryan Teague Beckwith
February 14, 2017

President Trump’s deep unpopularity among liberals has sparked a backlash that has even spilled into what his critics will and won’t wear.

In his short career in politics, the man behind the Donald J. Trump signature menswear line—the first haberdasher since Harry Truman to move into the White House—has had more of an effect on the world of fashion than he ever did as a salesman.

His comments have sparked protest fashion, sometimes literally overnight, while his clothing line and his daughter Ivanka’s women’s wear line have dropped in popularity.

Of course, protest fashion is nothing new. President Obama’s time in office made the tricorn hat and the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag something of a staple among his conservative critics.

But Trump’s Administration has been interesting for the diversity of the protest-wear.

Here’s a closer look at President Trump’s fashion backlash.

'Nasty Woman'

A protester wears "Nasty Woman" on her face during the Women's March on Washington in reaction to President Donald Trump's inauguration in Washington on Jan. 21, 2017.
Joshua Roberts—Reuters

Trump’s blunt way with words often hands his critics their best slogans. After he called Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman” at a presidential debate in October, many liberals began sporting “nasty woman” buttons and shirts. Another remark from the same debate about “bad hombres” coming from Mexico also became a popular T-shirt slogan.

The Safety Pin

The Dec. 19, 2016 issue of Sports Illustrated
Robert Beck

After the election, many critics of President Trump adopted the safety pin as a symbol of unity, a way to show they object to racial and religious harassment that had cropped up around the country. It was a symbol they had adopted from critics of the Brexit vote in Great Britain. Though sometimes criticized as an “empty gesture,” the safety pin even ended up on the cover of Sports Illustrated when NBA player LeBron James wore one.

The Pussy Hats

The Women's March fills the streets of Washington on Jan. 21, 2017 .
Monica Jorge—Sipa USA/AP

Trump’s crude remarks about grabbing women by the genitals, revealed in a tape from “Access Hollywood” that surfaced during the campaign, led protesters at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., to wear knitted “pussy hats” with cat ears.

The Patriotic Headscarf

Protesters hold signs during a women's march in solidarity with women marching in the US, in Paris on Jan. 21, 2017.
Khanh Renaud—Sipa USA/AP

Trump’s views on Islam sparked another trend: The American flag-hijab. In 2015, Republican Muslim Coalition founder Saba Ahmed wore an American flag hijab on Fox News to criticize Trump’s statements on American mosques. Artist Shepard Fairey, known for his iconic “Hope” poster for Barack Obama, created a poster for the Women’s March that employed the same look.

The Future Is Female Shirt

Anna Maria Lopez—Otherwild

Trump’s campaign against Hillary Clinton and the beginning of his presidency also helped revive an obscure 1970s lesbian rights-slash-feminist slogan, “The future is female,” which has become a popular T-shirt among his progressive critics. Clinton even quoted the slogan in her first formal appearance after his inauguration, a California leadership conference.

'Nevertheless She Persisted'

When Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced under an obscure Senate rule for comments during the confirmation of Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, a comment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell went viral: “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.” By the next day, “She persisted” merchandise was on sale online, and Reebok soon joined in.

Hurting the Brand

Ivanka Trump shoes are on display at the Pentagon city Nordstrom on February 9, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. Nordstrom says it will stop selling Ivanka Trump clothing and accessories. Photo by Olivier Douliery/Abaca(Sipa via AP Images)
Sipa USA via AP—Sipa USA via AP

Trump has also affected what his critics won’t wear. His statements on Mexicans at his campaign launch led Macy’s to drop his clothing line, while his daughter Ivanka saw sales of her own line of women’s wear slump over the course of the campaign, leading Nordstrom’s and other retailers to stop carrying it.

High Fashion Problems

Ivanka Trump also faced brushback online for posting an image of herself in a $5,000 silvery gown from Carolina Herrera on the same day as protests were breaking out at airports over her father’s executive order barring refugees and visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries. The image was fairly routine for her social media accounts, but the political context changed everything.

Melania's Fashion Choices

President Donald Trump, at the time the Republican presidential candidate, arriving to speak to an election night rally with his son Barron, wife Melania, son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughters Ivanka Trump and Tiffany Trump in New York on Nov. 9, 2016.
Evan Vucci—AP

One exception so far is First Lady Melania Trump, a one-time professional model. Perhaps because she’s been less visible so far than previous first ladies, Melania Trump has not faced the same kind of criticism as Ivanka has over her fashion choices. But that may not last. In a court filing in a libel suit, lawyers for Melania Trump noted that she has a “unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to “launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories.” Should she start selling clothes, she may run into the same polarization that has split the fashion world since Trump’s inauguration.


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