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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

How fashion, makeup brands are playing their part in the US elections like never before

Having been known to stay politically-aloof, the industry is finally taking the stage, as the world tunes in.

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: October 3, 2020 3:19:10 pm
Joe Biden, Biden Beauty, Biden beauty sponge, vote makeup challenge, US elections, Michelle Obama, fashion and beauty brands in the US, elections, presidential elections, indian express newsThe current happenings clearly show what kind of art makeup and fashion make, and how they are being used to disseminate important political messages. (Designed by Shambhavi Dutta)

The United States is gearing up for its presidential elections as it reels under the pressure of the ongoing pandemic as well as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. Amid debates and campaigning, there’s one industry that is getting involved in politics like never before.

As November 3 inches closer,  the fashion and beauty brands are playing a significant role in encouraging people to come out and vote, and make a difference. Having been known to stay largely politically aloof thus far, numerous fashion and beauty brands in the US have made important political statements in the recent past, mostly through their collections.

For instance, in the recently concluded New York Fashion Week, designer Christian Siriano made models sport black face masks with ‘vote’ written on them. One of them even wore a full-length bodycon dress with the word plastered all over it in white. Clearly, Siriano wanted to drive home the idea that voting is the least one can do when they think of bringing about a change.

Prior to this, former First Lady Michelle Obama — during her address to the Democratic National Convention — was spotted wearing a ‘VOTE’ necklace. The stunning, custom-made accessory instantly made headlines for its message. Designed by Chari Cuthbert, it triggered frenzied searches with keywords like “Michelle Obama necklace” and “vote necklace”.

But why is the industry repeatedly asking people to ‘vote’ this election season? An article dated October 2, 2020, written by Christina Binkley for Vogue Business states: “Only 56 per cent of the voting age population cast a ballot in the 2016 US presidential election, which is low compared to most nations, according to Pew Research Center. But a vocal and growing cohort of young fashion consumers from Hong Kong to Chicago, who gravitate towards brands that share the same values, expect companies to take ethical stands.”

“Gen Z, the youngest generation of consumers, is growing in influence, having this year surpassed millennials as the largest generation on earth. These youthful shoppers’ opinions and the factors that drive their spending make them a growing economic force on every continent. And the issues that are of concern to them — including environment and climate change, all-gender parity and racial and LGBTQ+ equity — are driving the US election… Political engagement brings with it risks for brands. Savvy customers are quick to sniff out inauthentic or pandering messages. But non-engagement, likewise, brings risks too,” it continues.

But not just fashion, even beauty brands have decidedly jumped on the election bandwagon, as is evident from the newly launched brand called ‘Biden Beauty’. As the name suggests, it has been set up to garner support for the Democratic presidential candidate. Joe Biden and his team, however, are not behind it. It has been started by anonymous industry insiders, urging people to “cancel out orange for good, the only way beauty knows how — with colour-correcting blue”. While it has a string of products — ranging from sweatshirts to totes and stickers — its beauty sponge has been a new addition. Known as the “BIDEN Beat Makeup Sponge”, it costs around 20 US dollars, or 1470 INR.

When Michelle Obama had collaborated with a brand named ‘The Lip Bar’ to kick-start the ‘When We All Vote’ campaign, it became an important development in the beauty industry for reasons known. A brand being run by a black person launching a red lipstick in order to increase the registration of voters, was bound to make news in the US, which is struggling with race and inclusivity.

The lipstick costs USD 15, which is roughly INR 1,105. The limited-edition product is known as ‘Bawse Voter’. It is vegan and cruelty free. Whenever someone buys the lipstick, 40 per cent of its proceeds go to the When We All Vote campaign. It then uses the money to increase the participation by providing details of the registration along with text reminders and resources needed to know about the voting process.

When they say makeup is art, the current happenings clearly show what kind of art it is, and how it is being used to disseminate important messages. With blue and red colours dominating the voting space in the US, many users have been sharing pictures of themselves on social media, sporting bright red lips and cool-toned eyeshadows with hints of blue. Check out some of these looks.


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