Fashion Reacts Publicly and Privately to Trump’s Muslim ban

In Dubai, fashion industry executives including many of who lead the Middle Eastern operations of global luxury brands were given a chance to attend a private meeting with chief executives of the Jumeirah Group, a luxury hotel chain with many properties across the United Arab Emirates and throughout Europe.

However, no American-owned brands were invited to this meeting. A reason for this maybe due to the current issues that US president Donald J. Trump is creating.

In his first week in office, he signed an executive order that freezes the US refugee program for 120 days, and indefinitely suspends refugees from Syria from entering the country. The order also kept all people from seven predominantly Muslim countries of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. Even individuals who have attained ‘green cards’ were denied entry to the country, along with academics and business executives on work visas.

The order triggered protests around the country at airports across the country and late on Saturday, causing individuals to reconsider the man they have elected into office. Many consider this order to be even un-American and do not accurately reflect the beliefs of its citizens.

Trump scaled back on few elements of the order that pertained to green card holders, allowing them to enter but continued to promise, “strong borders and extreme vetting” of those entering the country as part of his nationalist “America First” agenda which includes a protectionist stance on foreign trade.

Individual fashion leaders are stepping out into the light and are beginning to voice their concerns and opinions. “The fashion industry has always been a reflection of what America is all about… inclusion and diversity,” wrote designer and CFDA chairwoman Diane von Furstenberg. “It will continue to stand by these standards. I am personally horrified to see what is going on.”

Closed-door meetings like the one in Dubai are taking place all over the world as the results of Trump’s new policies. They are beginning to directly affect the free movement of personnel, including nationals of the banned countries living in Europe or the US, as well as those with dual nationalities.

Retail sales will begin to also take a hit as they rely on the purchasing power of wealthy tourists from the Middle East, who are directly affected by the new rules, and neighboring countries stay away due to the poor global perception of America.

The upcoming round of fashion weeks, which begin with the men’s Autumn/Winter 2017 shows in New York on January 30 and stretch all the way through the women’s Autumn/Winter 2017 shows in Paris, could also see lower attendance because of immigrations concerns.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has already brought together many members, as well as other industry executives and educators, to discuss how immigration policies will be represented the needs of the fashion industry. CFDA chief executive Steven Kolb and many other members have developed recommendations that will be released in a white-paper report in partnership with FWD.us, which advocates common-sense immigration reform.

Steve Kolb further explains the importance of the reform.

“Common-sense immigration policies will help keep our fashion industry competitive in the 21st century by making it easier for companies to attract, hire and retain foreign talent including expanding the number of visas for many foreign graduates from US schools and also expanding opportunities for international designers to come to the US.”

“We also need to address the foreign workforce of seamstresses, tailors and garment workers — which may include undocumented workers — by expanding visa options and creating a pathway to legalization and/or citizenship where applicable.”

Fashion leaders are banking on the Common-sense immigration policies in order to help keep our fashion industry competitive in the 21st century during Trumps campaign.

Ladi Akande

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