Ever since election night, many designers have been trying to figure out how they can appropriately resist the Trump presidency and everything it stands for. Do they speak out against dressing the Trump family? Do they openly support and give back to causes like immigration and reproductive health? Or do they get more a little more personal about it?
For Abigail Glaum-Lathbury and Maura Brewer, who run the Rational Dress Society, it was a no-brainer.
After the election, Brewer described the mood as "despondent." After years of working on RDS, which is all about custom-making futuristic jumpsuits for a genderless, utopic future, they were faced with a much more uncertain future.
Rather than take these past few months to mope though, the two thought about how their skill set could make a difference.
"We felt like we had to do something to respond directly to the situation," Brewer said in an interview. "The more that we learn about the Trumps and Ivanka, the more it becomes apparent that she's directly involved in profiting off the systems we’ve been trying to critique in the fashion industry."
From unfair labor practices to extremely low pay, Brewer and Glaum-Lathbury wanted to take aim at Ivanka Trump's clothing line in a most obvious way.
"She has this fashion company and she manufactures everything in these factories in China," Brewer said. "That's all while he’s espousing 'buy American, hire American,' so we thought, 'Well, that’s a whole lot of bullshit'. We thought, in response we could make good on this fake 'buy American' idea and finally turn Ivanka's clothes into something interesting."
But given the, um, condition of Trump's clothing line, Brewer and Glaum-Lathbury saw that the only way they could make her clothes interesting is to destroy them, reduce them down to a fiber, make a new fabric from that fiber and then turn it into their signature jumpsuits. And unlike Trump's own line, these would be made entirely in the United States.
Oh, and then when they auction those jumpsuits off, all proceeds go toward labor-rights nonprofits.
The name of this project? "Make America Rational Again."
However, it's not like Brewer and Glaum-Lathbury are buying new Ivanka Trump pieces; that would be a waste. They're instead calling for people to donate their own Ivanka Trump clothing. So, across the country, there are donation centers for this project and there's a mailing address, too. According to Brewer, they've already received donations, and they'll be taking them through August to reach their goal.
At this point, you may be thinking: "Why jumpsuits?" Brewer has a pretty succinct explanation for that.
"Jumpsuits have this really interesting history," Brewer said. "Because jumpsuits have this all-in-one ungendered look, they've been associated with science fiction. You get that look in Star Trek, for example. There were a lot of them in the 1960s, with feminist designers making jumpsuits inspired by astronauts. So we think that now, we can dress in a way that symbolizes the world we want to live in. Jumpsuits are about working-class solidarity. They’re about post-gender utopias. It's practical and symbolic."
RDS currently only makes its not-Ivanka-Trump-affiliated jumpsuits in black and white, but Brewer said these special, recycled Trump jumpsuits will actually be a bit more colorful, since many of the dyes Trump uses in her clothing will end up in the thread. In the end, they're thinking they'll turn out millennial pink, a color that Trump herself loves, ironically.
Ultimately, Brewer's goal is to get these jumpsuits made and auctioned to the highest bidder via the RDS website in six months. By that time, who knows where Ivanka Trump will be, but Brewer has some lofty hopes for that.
"The goals for the entire Ivanka Trump project is to shame Ivanka Trump into renouncing all of her political ambitions and moving to a commune in western Montana," Brewer said. "That's just where we think she should be. We want her to shutter her business. We want her to retire, basically."