June 23, 2018 / 5:45 PM / 5 months ago

U.S. fashion firm sells its take on US first lady's controversial jacket

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A U.S. clothing company is taking a sartorial swipe at first lady Melania Trump, selling jackets saying “I really care, don’t you?” in response to the “I really don’t care” jacket she wore to visit migrant children separated from their parents.

All proceeds from the jackets, selling for $98, will be donated to a Texas-based refugee and immigrant advocacy group, said Emma McIlroy, chief executive of the Wildfang clothing company in Portland, Oregon.

The first lady’s visit on Thursday to a Texas shelter housing migrant children was overshadowed by the jacket she wore with the words: “I really don’t care, do u?” scrawled in white brush strokes on the back.

Her jacket prompted a maelstrom on social media over what it meant.

Her spokeswoman said the jacket had no hidden message, while President Donald Trump tweeted that it referred to “fake news.”

Wildfang had its version of the jacket, with its slogan on the back, for sale online the same day as the first lady’s visit, McIlroy told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“I thought ‘Why don’t we make the opposite jacket? Why don’t we make the jacket that does good in the world?’” she said.

The first batch of 100 military-style jackets sold out within an hour, and a second batch sold just as quickly.

The small, 5-year-old clothing company is now taking requests for t-shirts and other emblazoned jackets to fulfill in the next few weeks, McIlroy said.

“I think it’s just incredibly hopeful and refreshing,” she said of the response.

The furor over the jackets shows the power of fashion, especially in turbulent political times when the public is “so angry about everything,” said Paco Underhill, chief executive of Envirosell, a research and consulting company, and author of “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.”

“Whether it’s fashion or whether it’s tattoos or whether it’s billboards, people are desperately trying to find ways to make statements,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“What better way to be able to state what your opinions are than to plaster it on your body and walk down the street or, even better yet, plaster it on your body and post it on various social media?”

With sale of its jackets, Wildfang was more than halfway through its goal of raising $50,000 for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in San Antonio, Texas, McIlroy said.

Trump’s version of the jacket was sold by the Spanish fashion chain Zara. A representative of Zara could not be reached immediately for comment.

Her visit to Texas came a day after her husband signed an executive order to modify his administration’s practice of separating children from their migrant parents when they illegally enter the United States.

The practice caused an outcry in the United States and was condemned abroad by leaders such as Pope Francis.

Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, editing by Astrid Zweynert @azweynert Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org

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