Fashion designers — including several who dress first lady Michelle Obama — are lending their talents to President Obama’s reelection bid, but those efforts may have been wasted on the blandly patriotic Obama apparel and accessories of “Runway to Win.” The collection is meant to raise funds for the campaign and will be available Feb. 7, but its uninspired look might not send voters to booths, let alone buyers to the store.
With merchandise ranging from $40 to $95, its expense is what has made some bloggers — like Jeannie DeAngelis of Big Hollywood — take issue with the line. But given that the shirts are designed for a fundraiser, it isn’t surprising that they would be overpriced. The real reason to take issue with the merch: It’s boring.
Few designers for“Runway to Win” deviate from the Obama “O” logo or the American flag — which makes most of the collection look like a more-expensive Old Navy Fourth of July t-shirt. Eddie Borgo created a metal “Greater Together” pin that looks a bit like a game token, and Marcus Wainwright and David Neville of the label Rag & Bone overreached in equating Obama’s mission to that of Gandhi in a tote bag with a variation on the famous quote, “Be the change you want to see.”
Some do hint at pushing beyond a campaign rally: Altazurra’s red, white and blue fragmented plaid shirt, as well as Derek Lam’s geometric tote and Thakoon’s floral silk scarf. But for the most part the designers didn’t take the opportunity to change the idea of a campaign shirt into something you’d wear for occasions other than a national holiday.
Certainly, political shirts and totes must convey a message, but the message put forth by these designs doesn’t seem to have evolved from the 2008 last cycle beyond jettisoning the word “Hope” — and many of the shirts are such such straightforward takes on the logo or flag that they may as well have been designed by the campaign staff, rather than those who regularly appear on the pages of Vogue.
Michelle Obama has worn more than half of the designers behind the 23 items featured in the collection: She’s been spotted in attire by Jason Wu, Thakoon, Diane Von Furstenberg, Rachel Roy, Narciso Rodriguez, Tracy Reese, Derek Lam, Marc Jacobs, Georgina Chapman (of Marchesa), Prabal Gurung, Monique Pean, Alexandra Wang and Vera Wang. They’ve all created fantastic and creative looks for the first lady. Why not for the campaign?