Jill Biden and the Fashion Community Join Forces in a Fundraising Campaign for Joe Biden

In recent years, the connection between fashion and politics has been a deep one, with designers like Diane von Furstenberg and Marc Jacobs playing active roles in the campaigning and fundraising for candidates. But as Joseph Altuzarra pointed out in an online fundraiser for the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden Wednesday night, hosted by Anna Wintour and Jill Biden, fashion as a political statement actually goes back nearly two-and-a-half centuries and to the very birth of the United States.

Altuzarra talked about how Martha Washington commissioned a bandana with an image of her husband, George, during the Revolutionary War, “as a political promotion,” and that he specifically wanted to design a bandana for the Believe in Better collection being unveiled this week because it had a “long and significant history in American culture.” He explained that over the decades, it had been used as a symbol of workers’ rights in the 1920s, by women on the factory floor during WW II, and for gay men to signal each other in the closeted years of the 1970s. “I wanted to design an accessory for the moment we are all now living in,” he added, and then demonstrated on the Zoom call how his bandana could easily be converted into a face mask.

Wednesday’s event, which also featured Joe Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, who—as Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue and artistic director of Condé Nast, pointed put—had run every one of her brother’s campaigns since he ran for high school class president, including his current one for the presidency, was the official launch of Believe in Better collection. Besides Altuzarra, 18 other American designers have created a personalized item to be sold as Biden campaign merchandise. They range from traditional campaign T-shirts by Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Jonathan Cohen and Jack McCollough & Lazaro Hernandez, to a Joe necklace by Lizzie Fortunato, a Believe in Better crop-top by Carly Cushni, a scarf by Thom Browne, a Unity face mask by Monique Péan, a tie dye concert tee by Joe Perez, and a bucket hat by Victor Glemaud. (Wintour was wearing a Unity Over Division pullover designed by Thakoon Panichgul.)

Biden Owens thanked the designers for participating, acknowledging that “each of you has put your reputation on the line” by supporting her brother’s campaign in such a public way. “We are very, very grateful.” (She also reiterated what she said was the most important fashion statement of all this year: “Wear a damn mask.”)

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