In the last election, American fashion designers made some very visible demonstrations for support for then candidate Barack Obama, and now that it has come time to re-elect him (in case you hadn't noticed) they are joining forces and escalating their efforts. A group of 22 designers including Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Diane von Furstenberg, Narciso Rodriguez, Jason Wu, Alexander Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, Rag & Bone, Rachel Roy and Tracy Reece have formed Runway To Win and will launch an e-commerce site this Thursday that will offer merchandise such as t-shirts, tote bags, wristlets and scarves whose proceeds will support the President's re-election campaign. The effort is based on a previous initiative called "Runway To Change" that supported the 2008 Obama campaign.
And who is behind all this political activity on Seventh Avenue? Oh, come on, you know who it is. It's Vogue editor-in-chief and Dark Mistress of all Fashion World activity, Anna Wintour. The Iron Lady of the industry has been a longtime Obama Supporter, and WWD has identified her as one of an elite group of fundraising "bundlers" who regularly raise in excess of $500,000 for the Obama 2012 campaign. Wintour has attracted much attention with her five-figure-a-head receptions, and will co-host a fundraising event next month with actress Scarlett Johansen to promote the program, but rounding up designers to participate was not without its stumbling blocks. WWD reports that LVMH, which controls so many fashion labels including Marc Jacobs and Donna Karan, was skittish of alienating customers by politicizing its brands and had initially vetoed any of its designers' involvement in "Runway To Win". WWD, citing unnamed sources, reported that Marc Jacobs chose to participate anyway after pressure from Vogue. Donna Karan, who has supported Obama in the past, is not included in the initiative this time around. Whether that says something about Karan's stand in the current pecking order or an unlikely power struggle between Wintour and LVMH is something gossips can debate during a slow week in fashion.