One of the most disappointing statistics to emerge from Trump’s election in 2016 was the fact that a majority (53%, by the count of the exit polls) of white women opted to vote for him, even after the febrile, pre-#MeToo debate generated by his leaked Access Hollywood tape. And yet none have held this torch quite so vocally as Fox News political Tomi Lahren.
It might come as a surprise, then, to learn that for her latest career move, Lahren is branching out into the historically liberal world of fashion: partnering up with the brand Alexo Athletica—best known for their “carrywear” leggings that handily include a pocket to store a firearm—to debut her line, titled “Freedom.”
“Some have told me I’m too ‘controversial’ to have an athleisure line, that conservatives should just stick to politics and Trump cheerleading,” Lahren wrote in an Instagram post earlier today. “My response? Watch me.”
For her first capsule, Lahren has stuck to a palette of red, white and blue, while touches of camouflage and all-over star prints further emphasize the patriotic outlook of the line. In a promotional video, she is keen to note that “there are a lot of young girls out there who don’t feel like they have a brand that represents them, their freedom, and their rights.”
But what makes the thorny prospect of Tomi Lahren acting as a brand ambassador for a sports-luxe brand all the more depressing is not even her politics: it’s the fact that an entire brand has been built on the necessity for women to carry a gun simply as a constitutional right, even when heading to a morning work-out. As the debate around gun control laws continues to swirl, leggings with in-built holsters can only be judged as a saddening by-product.
As a staunch NRA ally, Lahren’s desire for a “concealed carry pocket” as a protective measure is hypocrisy at its finest. That such a fashion line should claim to be carving out safe spaces is particularly jarring, especially when there are so many brilliant young designers doing just that for women and a host of marginalized groups.
Take Chromat, whose kaleidoscopic swimwear celebrates bodies of all shapes, genders and colors; or Rio Uribe’s Gypsy Sport, that finds beauty in the designer’s diverse patchwork of friends and collaborators. Even more established designers—from Prabal Gurung to Jeremy Scott—have made their voices heard when it comes to the urgent need for gun control, while 2018 CFDA Prize recipient Kerby Jean-Raymond, of Pyer Moss, has from the beginning woven pressing social issues for African-Americans into the fabric of his brand with ease.
There are plenty who say that politics should be kept out of fashion, particularly when it comes to supporting the rights of women, queer people, or creatives of color. Thankfully, we can now point them in the direction of Tomi Lahren’s video promos, where she unequivocally proves just how intertwined fashion and politics are—and always will be. What matters is where we choose to spend that hard-earned money. The further we can keep it from Lahren and her cohorts—and the more we can plant it in the pockets of those enacting real change in an industry—the better.