“The biggest questions around the US president’s inaugural celebrations have not been about what Barack Obama would say but what his wife would wear.” — Reuters
Like the other American fashion designers, we were a ball of nerves waiting for the inauguration. It had been widely speculated that Mrs. Obama would support a little-known emerging designer. Obama has done so much for new designers in the past four years. She’s given the American fashion industry global exposure and a financial boost.
To us, and others, it seems that the US apparel industry could use a lot of help. The number of jobs in fashion has declined by more than 80 percent in the past 20 years. In 1990 there were nearly 1,000,000 apparel jobs; today there are only 150,000 working in this business. That’s a big problem for the good people who cut and sew. It also threatens new designers who depend on skilled workers to experiment and ease into production.
Fashion is both an industrial and a cultural phenomenon, one that goes to the heart of what we understand as design. Fashion is important to a society — and vice versa. What people wear characterizes who they are and what they do.
Our expectations were modest. We conceded the evening gown contest to some other worthy American designer.
But, surely a nice steady downpour on Inauguration Day would mean something big for us. The Obama family has been praised for their fashion, which is both practical and stylish. It all added up…American design, distinctive, functional with modern performance advantages. That’s the Cleverhood rain cape. No slick yellow rain jacket for the FLOTUS. It wouldn’t matter if the Obamas were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue or making a big bold statement on bikes (or horseback, for that matter). There was only one obstacle in our way.
Well, as you may’ve heard, the weather didn’t cooperate. It did not rain on our inaugural parade. Instead this contest went to another American upstart – Thom Browne of New York who told CBS News he was “proud and humbled.” He stole our thunder. We would’ve been 10X that.
However, we remain undaunted. There’s always Beyoncé, who as Gary Wassner, a New York fashion big-wig said via Twitter “Her revenues derive primarily from the US. Some support would be nice.” Actually, might look better on Jay Z.