February 13 2017
Patrice L. Onwuka
Ivanka Trump is not the only woman facing backlash in the fashion industry for her connections to President Donald Trump. Models signed to the Trump’s modeling agencies are also facing heat.
As my colleague Charlotte Allen reported, Ivanka Trump’s clothing line has been target #1 for feminists who want to punish her for her father’s comments, executive orders, and perhaps even victory over Hillary Clinton. Last week a flurry of major retailers pulled Ivanka Trump branded items from their shelves.
The boycott doesn’t stop with Ivanka though. There’s growing buzz from casting directors, hairstylists, make-up artists, and other service providers to boycott the models who are signed to Trump Models in protest as well.
A freelance hairstylist posted on his Facebook page that he planned to stop working on jobs that involve talent from Trump’s modeling agency because he cannot stand to see his name beside Trump's in any photo credits. Some of his industry colleagues agreed, claiming they had been mulling the same thing for some time.
Refinery 29 posted the online exchanges.
The real irony is that this stylist and his allies in protest would really be hurting the models who want to work –just like everyone else. By boycotting, they are potentially disrupting the means for these models to earn a living. In an interview, the hairstylist acknowledge that fact:
"The general feedback I've gotten from people within the industry has been sympathetic for the models who are under contract with Trump," Aylward told Refinery29 exclusively. "But the real irony here — or perhaps something other industry members haven't made the connection of yet — is the fact that most of them are immigrants themselves, so I can only imagine how it feels to be professionally represented by the same person that believes you're lesser than, or less-deserving, than a native born American."
Aylward continued: "Boycotting Trump models was a personal choice that I thought long and hard about. I've worked with their models before and they're awesome people, but the bottom line for me was that I could not have my name or work used to promote someone like Trump. I refuse to be implicit in his brand of racism. And the idea of seeing my name printed on a piece of paper next to his makes me sick to my stomach."
A brief glance at the Trump Models roster confirms that many of the models are foreign born. If enough people boycott, these models will find themselves with no contracts to work.
One such model is Ataui Deng, a 25-year-old Sudanese refugee, who fled the war-ravaged country with her family in 2004. She was signed to Trump Models in 2008 at the age of 16 after being discovered at a shopping mall talent competition. The contract with Trump Models put this refugee on the map allowing her to work with major designer organizations such as Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, and Diane von Furstenberg. She was even the face for signer Rihanna’s fashion campaign in 2013.
The hairstylist in this story exposes the political bias that colors the views of so many in the fashion industry. They are willing to sacrifice the very people who depend on them to work and live for politics. It’s an unwillingness to accept an opposing view.
For young models trying to break into the industry, they will work for who will pay for their abilities. As far as we know, Trump Models is a well-respected, reputable agency providing top talent. To boycott them simply for their name puts all of the models and staff in jeopardy.
This is case of politics trumping good sense.