What Shoe Industry Leaders Have to Say About a Trump Presidency

Throughout the course of one of the mostly volatile presidential campaigns of recent times, many of fashion’s top tastemakers and business leaders made no secret about the fact that Hillary Clinton was their candidate of choice. But in the election aftermath, newly minted President-elect Donald Trump has done what many across the footwear and apparel industries did not see coming.

The stormy election season saw fashion designers such as Ralph Lauren, Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs and Tory Burch throw their support behind Clinton. Fashion, beauty and lifestyle magazines, including Vogue and Cosmopolitan, as well as music and entertainment stars, such as Beyoncé, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, also publicly endorsed Clinton. Meanwhile, some industry executives who prioritized free and open global trade also seemed to favor Clinton’s trade policies over Trump’s, which called for a withdrawal from the controversial Trade Pacific Partnership (TPP).

As many across the industry digest the results, Footwear News reached out to top executives for their initial reactions as well as their thoughts on the key issues that Trump should address in his new role.

Matt Priest, president, Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America

“We’ve seen these bellwether votes throughout the year — such as the Brexit vote — that gave us line of sight into the possibility that this could happen. The [task] remains for a global industry such as ours — that’s built on globalization and driving fashion and footwear brands to consumers both here and around the world and is at odds with [Trump’s] economic message — to figure out where the common ground is.”

Stephen Lamar, EVP, American Apparel & Footwear Association

“Footwear is one of the most traded products globally, and so much of the industry depends on access to consumers and access to supply chain in order to stay competitive. We have a lot of high duties and trade barriers in the U.S., and so we’re going to be looking for ways that we can tackle those duties and barriers. Brand protection [is also important], and making sure that the value that we attribute to innovation and to our brands and to the intellectual property is protected in both the United States and around the world. I would hope that President-elect Trump — as someone who understands the power of a brand — would really see this as an area where he could spend some time.”

Bob Campbell, Chairman & CEO, BBC International LLC

“We are a very divided industry right now: There are a lot unhappy people today, but there are also a lot of very happy people. Fortunately, [President-elect] Trump has a very strong vice president that understands Congress and Washington. I think he could leave a lot to Mike Pence. I think Trump will do what has to be done first. I don’t think he’s going to think trade is No. 1 — the economy and jobs are No. 1.”

Rick Muskat, EVP/Principal, Deer Stags Concepts Inc.

“As an organization, we have been advocating for TPP. The outcome of the election raises a lot of questions since President-elect Trump has been very vocal against TPP. But we will continue to help advocate for it and see if we can find a way to help move this forward … I’d like to see our country now pull together. We’ve had a very divisive campaign. Obviously, if you look at the results on a popular vote basis, the country is divided almost 50/50. And, if you look at the electoral map, there are two different sentiments. But we have to be one country now — we’ve elected a president and we have to hope for his success.”

Greg Tunney, President & CEO, RG Barry Corp.

“I’m really concerned that Trump really was very strongly against trade in his campaign. I’m a free trader, and I believe in free trade. Our industry is heavily burdened with hidden taxes and tariffs. I have a great concern about [whether] Trump will come back and say, ‘I was a free trader anyway because all my stuff was imported,’ after being elected, or if he is going to stay on that political stump and stay true to that.”

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