Obama and High End Fashion?

Typically when you think of high end fashion in the Obama family, your first thought will probably be Mrs. Obama. Well, that is the case, as seen in her $2400 dress she wore to the State of the Union, or the other outfits she commonly wears that are clearly reserved for only the 1%. However, we are talking about Mr. Obama and high end fashion. Yea he probably has close to a million designer label suits, but I’m not talking about that either. What has been in the news lately is the “Runway to Win” campaign that has been starting back up lately.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour started this campaign in 2008 when Obama first ran. The campaign centers on donating proceeds from the sale of designer Obama gear. This includes Marc Jacobs designed Obama t-shirts, Derek Lam tote bags, designer scarves, etc. Besides the fact that they are throwing designer labels on t-shirts to raise money, there is controversy over whether this violates campaign finance rules. Since the designer merchandise is selling much lower than typical items seen from the same designers in department stores, it is speculated that “corporate resources” were used to keep costs down, and is in violation of finance rules.

“This raises serious questions about whether corporate money, property and employees were improperly used in the design and production of these items without reimbursement,” said Sean Spicer, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee.

The argument is that the designers cannot ask their employees to work on these projects, unless they are volunteering their time. If they are getting paid, then it is considered a campaign contribution.  The designers of the $45 shirts are claiming that all of them and their staffers “volunteered” their time, and did not get reimbursed for any of it. This controversy is similar to past FEC rulings whether or not famous bands can play at rallies and conventions. The agency said “entertainers can volunteer their time to perform, but ancillary costs such as travel expenses had to be paid by the campaign or counted as an “in-kind” donation.”

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