President Obama has returned to e-commerce and haute couture with Runway to Win, a collaborative campaign merchandise fundraiser pegged to the kickoff of New York Fashion Week. As fashionistas rev up for the Fall 2012 collections, designers and Dem supporters have been rallying to raise money, chicly, for the president's re-election campaign.
The collection features patriotic clothing and accessories, moderately priced from $45 to $95, from top designers including Tory Burch, Rachel Roy, Derek Lam, Beyoncé and Tina Knowles, Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Diane von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez, Vera Wang, Thakoon, Jason Wu, Grace Tsao-Wu and Laura Kofoid of Laudi Vindi, Marc Jacobs and Tracy Reese.
“Runway to Win” follows Obama’s 1980’s “Runway to Change,” both organized by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Items are on sale at runwaytowin.com, coinciding with last night's fundraiser and Fashion Week party, hosted by Wintour and Scarlett Johansson, at the Theory clothing store in New York's Meatpacking District.
The Washington Post panned the Runway to Win line, calling it "blandly patriotic" and "uninspired." But Meaghan Burdick, marketing and merchandise director for the Obama campaign, defended the move to Vogue: “We had such a fantastic response to the Runway to Change event in 2008, when we re-approached the designers who supported the initiative last time, they signed off on making another collection right away.”
“The flag is one of my favorite images to design with because of everything that it stands for, everything that it represents, and everything that it reminds you to believe and dream in,” commented designer Rachel Roy in Vogue, whose American flag T-shirt is in the collection. “If you don’t dream, and if you don’t have the freedom of speech to express those dreams, then what are we here for?”
The collection's moderate prices, by the way, raised Republican eyebrows. "This raises serious questions about whether corporate money, property and employees were improperly used in the design and production of these items without reimbursement," Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer commented to the Wall Street Journal.
"All of the designers volunteered their personal time to create these great designs," the Obama campaign responded, adding that the designs were donated and "not underwritten with any corporate funds."