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The Fashion World Takes a Stand Against Trump

by Staff Contributor on April 12, 2017

One of the latest industries to voice their opinion on Donald Trump is the fashion field. Various major members of the fashion world have been continually vocal in relation to their opposition of the immigration policies proposed—and enacted—by the Trump administration.

Many of these outspoken figures, such as Prabal Gurung, Joseph Altuzarra and Diane con Furstenberg, are immigrants themselves and have displayed a fierce defense of their morals and beliefs relating to such.

These politically minded powerhouses have made use of their outreach in multiple ways to publicize their opinions on the matter. Besides the expected utilization of social media, some fashion professionals even made use of their runway shows at New York Fashion Week this past February as a platform to expose their political views.

However, the most recent development strengthens their power on such even more—these leaders of the fashion world now have data to support their position against Trump’s immigration policies.

Industry trade group, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and FWD.us, which a bipartisan entity comprised of technology and business leaders who share the goal to “promote policies to keep the United States and its citizens competitive in a global economy,” collaborated to produce a report which outlines the influence of the current American immigrant policy on the fashion industry in the nation.

One of the top concerns identified in the report is access to and retention of top talent, as many (aspiring) designers, models and other professions in the field are not citizens or natives of the United States. Along the same line as this, the second of the “key concerns” included in the report is the elevated monetary cost of navigating the immigration system in its current state. The specific problems with this second concern are the legal fees linked to filing paperwork to attain a visa and other documentation.

The investigation detailed in the report includes data derived from research conducted by “policy experts,” a survey of CFDA members and roundtable discussions, and conversations between key figures and leaders of the fashion industry.

The statistics included in the report, calculated based on the research results, highly support the industry’s fight against Trump’s immigration policies. For example, 40 percent the students currently enrolled in Parsons School of Design, at the New York City location, are international. Furthermore, 50 percent of the designers that were surveyed declared that they hire qualified immigrants to contribute to and actively take part in their design processes. To finish off the significant statistics found in the report: it was found that, unsurprisingly, 31 percent of the fashion designers that participated in the survey concluded that being unable to hire non-American workers would financially harm their business.

Clearly, foreign influence in the fashion workforce is of vital importance, and the efficiency and prosperity of the industry could be jeopardized by the immigration policies proposed by the Trump administration.

The report culminated with a few questions regarding the Trump administration specifically, initiating with his proposed increase of the HB-1 visas—these visas are granted to about 85,000 highly skilled workers per annum. Similar to the technology industry, the fashion field strongly relies on this visa, as it does on the O-1 visa, which is given to individuals that exhibit “extraordinary ability” in the areas of science, education, athletics, art or business. These visas are typically used not only by workers hired for the design aspect, but also by fashion models.

In a recently divulged statement, the CFDA president and CEO Steven Kolb said, “The CFDA’s mission is to strengthen the influence and success of the American designers in the global economy.” He then expanded this idea in the same statement declaring that, “In order to continue the U.S.’ success and influence in the fashion industry, we must recruit the best talent from all over the world. If the United States wants to lead in the world of fashion innovation, we need immigration policies that embrace the talented foreigners who come here to build and grow.”

After all, who can imagine the fashion world without foreign icons like Gisele or Valentino?

Featured Image via Wikimedia.

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Staff Contributor
Born and raised New Yorker with foreign parents; aftermaths include: having the tendency to switch languages mid-sentence, an endless stock of funny stories (normally founded on cultural/linguistic misunderstanding), a love of travel and reading, an excessive amount of curiosity (not nosy, just intrigued!), a sincere appreciation for food and coffee, and the ability to react to just about any situation with an infectious bout of laughter.
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