By all accounts, the November elections are shaping up to be one for the record books. Not only will it include the first women of color as the Vice Presidential candidate for a major party, but the country also will be voting during a pandemic — a situation that is introducing all number of logistical challenges.
To help encourage Americans to cast their ballots (either in person or by mail), a growing list of brands and retailers are helping get out the vote. Many are launching consumer-facing initiatives to whip up excitement ahead of November, while others have pledged to close their offices on Election Day to give employees an opportunity to head to the polls.
Below is list of all the footwear organizations celebrating our civic duty.
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American Eagle Outfitters
The specialty retailer — parent to its namesake brand, as well as the Aerie banner — has announced a partnership with HeadCount, a nonprofit that works with musicians to promote voter registration and participation in the election process. Both American Eagle and Aerie have released voting-inspired T-shirts with 100% of the sales benefiting the nonpartisan organization. What’s more, the company has launched its Vote 2020 Action Center, where shoppers and workers can register to vote, sign up for election reminders and discover other resources ahead of Election Day. It has enlisted influencers and creatives like Grace Owen, Lachlan Watson, Nia Sioux and Kenidra Woods to use their social media platforms to bring tips and information to the public.
La-based denim brand AMO Denim is helping to raise awareness about voter registration with its “Be the Change” T-shirt. All proceeds from the sale of the shirt, which retails for $115 on amodenim.com, will be donated to public awareness initiative I am a voter.
The Brother Vellies designer teamed up with Keds to launch a vote-themed sneaker, and 100% of proceeds will be donated to When We All Vote, a nonpartisan organization launched in 2018 by Michelle Obama and Valerie Jarrett to increase participation in every election. The canvas sneaker features a special message handwritten by James supporting When We All Vote, and come with special laces and a Brother Vellies charm. The shoes retail for $95 and are sold exclusively on Brothervellies.com. In addition, Brother Vellies is launching $35 crew socks, sold separately, that pair perfectly with the Keds kicks. For every pair of socks sold, $5 will go to When We All Vote.
In tandem with the release of its Will Work For A Better Republic campaign, Banana Republic has announced its partnership with nonpartisan nonprofit Rock the Vote to promote voter registration during the election year. Starting Sept. 10, the retailer will sell a series of reusable, non-medical grade cloth face masks with the messaging “Vote for a Better Republic” emblazoned across the front. The masks will be available to shop on BananaRepublic.com, with $5 from every face mask purchase going directly to Rock the Vote until the company is able to donate up to $25,000.
Activewear brand Beyond Yoga has also teamed up with I am a voter. on a special collection including a boxy tee and two pairs of leggings emblazoned with the organization’s slogan. The pieces will start at $58 and be available to purchase on BeyondYoga.com beginning Oct. 8, with 25% of proceeds going to I am a voter.
Birdies teamed up with Danielle Stern of Leftys Right Mind to launch the Vote Collection to help raise awareness and encourage women to register to vote. The five styles are hand-painted with symbols representing women’s journey toward voting. Designs include the word “empowered” in soft script; a yellow rose in honor of suffragists who wore the flower-shaped pin in 1920 during a rally in Nashville to ratify the 19th Amendment; and stars in purple, white and yellow as a nod to the women’s suffrage movement. They are selling for $165 a pair on Birdies.com.
Birkenstock is giving its U.S.-based workers a paid holiday to vote in the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 3. (It has about 200 employees in the country.) “We are certainly not doing it to make a political statement or a social statement,” CEO of Birkenstock Americas David Kahan. “We really just want to empower our workforce.”
L.A.-based menswear label Buck Mason announced on Sept. 1 that it joined the Time to Vote initiative and will make Election Day a paid holiday for all of its employees. As part of its pledge, the company will close all of its 11 retail stores on Nov. 3 and pause all office and warehouse operations for the day. Buck Mason co-founder Sasha Koehn said in a statement, “With so much at stake, voting has never been more critical.”
Chico’s has signed on as a member of Time to Vote, joining forces with more than 1,300 companies who have committed to helping boost voter participation and providing employees adequate time to vote in the 2020 elections. As part of its voting initiative, the retailer has designated Nov. 3 a “Meeting-Free Day” at its corporate headquarters in Fort Myers, Fla. It will also offer boutique, call center and distribution center associates shorter shifts on Election Day. “We are fostering a culture that empowers our associates and provides them with flexibility to participate in the democratic process without having to choose between earning a paycheck and exercising their right to vote,” CEO and president Molly Langenstein said in a statement. “It’s vitally important that our associates have a say on the issues that personally impact them and their families.”
In June, Tapestry-owned Coach made its first foray into politics when it announced a partnership with More Than a Vote, a nonprofit created earlier this year by LeBron James and other pro athletes, aimed at combating voter suppression in the Black community. Chief marketing officer Carlos Becil told FN that Coach has promised to mobilize its full resources, including employees, stores and collaborators, to amplify the organization’s mission. “Our country is in a unique moment in time where racial inequalities, specifically those affecting the Black community, have reached every corner of the national dialogue,” said Cecil. “Coach believes American companies need to take responsibility to drive change, and this is a year of change.”
DLTR has launched a new education and registration campaign dubbed “Dare to Vote,” which will run until the 2020 general election in November. With the initiative, the lifestyle company expects to host voter education and registration events at various stores across major metropolitan U.S. cities. It will also hold “Run, Ride & Register” events in partnership with local running and bicycle clubs in Atlanta, Baltimore and Miami on Sept. 25.
What’s more DLTR is launching registration drives at its outposts in Atlanta — with help from the NAACP and Georgia Vote — as well as joining forces with the Eastern Region of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and Building Mosaic Solutions Inc. to help educate patrons at its locations in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Philadephia. “DTLR takes pride in its role in fashion, music and culture, but we are most proud of our efforts giving back to the communities in which we serve,” said community outreach director Tremayne Lipscomb. “We hope through our outreach efforts, we are helping to give a voice to those who may not have otherwise participated.”
California-based footwear label Esquivel has teamed up with Focus Features on a unisex sneaker inspired by the company’s new film The Way I See It, which offers a behind the scenes look at Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan’s presidencies through the eyes of famous photographer Pete Souza. The $325 luxe white sneaker features the word “Vote” hand engraved on the upper and can be customized with the shopper’s initials. A portion of the proceeds from the collaboration will be donated to Headcount to support the organization’s efforts to increase voter registration.
Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America
FDRA launched the online education center ShoeVoter.info in July. The nonpartisan online hub, which is maintained by a third party, offers users a range of information, including their state’s registration rules and deadlines, absentee ballot guidelines, voting locations and requirements, plus a list of candidates in their district. “We felt like this election year, with everything going on, we could build something that would be a one-stop shop for footwear companies to get their employees educated and activated,” said Andy Polk, SVP at FDRA.
GapKids’ fall ad campaign, “Be the Future,” has a mission to amplify young voices calling for change, and inspire the next generation of activists and leaders. In addition to ads featuring youth change makers, the campaign includes non-medical grade face masks with the words “Vote” and “Be the Future,” selling on Gap.com for $18 for a 3-pack. Proceeds benefit When We All Vote and Rock the Vote. In addition, Gap will be partnering with the two nonprofits to help inspire its community to register to vote this election year.
On Election Day, H&M USA is offering paid time off to all 17,000 employees to cast their votes. Through its voter registration and education initiative in partnership with I Am a Voter and the American Civil Liberties Union, the fast-fashion chain’s U.S. business has set up in-store signage that encourages staff members and shoppers at its more than 560 stores across the country to text HMVOTES to 26797 to check their registration or sign up to vote. It has also created a landing page on HM.com to support the ACLU’s efforts to help voters understand their rights and access the vote-by-mail option in their respective states. “As a member of the Civic Alliance, we recognize the importance of businesses working together to build a future where everyone participates in shaping our country, and we are excited to offer our H&M customers and staff an easy way to register to vote, learn more about their rights as voters and to provide our teams with the necessary paid time off to cast their ballots,” H&M USA president Stefan Vos said in a statement.
What’s more, the company has also launched an artist-designed collection in celebration of National Voter Registration Day. Dubbed H&M Votes x Blanks Artist Collab, the limited-edition capsule will be available online and at select H&M stores in the U.S. starting Sept. 22. In addition, the retailer will make donations to the regional ACLU chapters of each participating artist’s hometown. Among those artists are Baron Von Fancy and Sophia Chang of New York City; Sheila Rashid of Chicago; Gunner Stahl of Atlanta’ Greg Mike, founder of ABV Agency and Gallery, of Florida; and Reality To Idea by Joshua Vides of Los Angeles.
Jeff Staple x The Shoe Surgeon
Jeff Staple and The Shoe Surgeon have teamed up to help increase voter turnout in the 2020 election. The two sneaker icons created a special website (justvote.xyz) that provides educational resources and information about registering to vote, polling locations, mail-in ballots — and how to serve as a poll worker. But the real draw is the chance to win a custom pair of limited-edition Jeff Staple x The Shoe Surgeon Dunk Low sneakers. To qualify, fans must obtain raffle tickets by buying “Just Vote” merchandise (proceeds go to the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project). And they must submit proof they have voted, such as a picture of them at their polling location, wearing an “I Voted” sticker, or an image of their mail-in ballot.
In addition to collaborating with Aurora James this year on a pair of sneakers to benefit the When We All Vote organization, Keds is still offering a pair of sneakers created last year with designer Rachel Antonoff. Launching on National Voter Registration Day in 2019, the Triple Kick platform shoe is detailed with the worlds “Hysterical Female” and was intended to promote social change and raise awareness for women’s rights. They’re selling for $75 on Keds.com.
After launching a social media contest in August for design students, Kenneth Cole unveiled a new voting initiative on Oct. 9 around the tagline “Vote to Exist.” The brand debuted a face mask with the words emblazoned in white on a black background (it’s selling online for $15), and Cole wrapped his Bond + Bowery store in New York in black-and-white posters calling on citizens to “Vote to Exist” and “Stand Up and Show Up (or Shut Up).” He also partnered with Turbo Vote to create a unique link (tvote.org/KennethCole) to provide people with help registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot. Meanwhile, on social media, Cole is inviting fans to participate in his campaign by posting photos of the words “It’s in our hands” written on, well, their hands.
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Today is #RequestYourBallotDay…IT’S IN OUR HANDS… Join us to encourage voter turnout by sharing our message: VOTE TO EXIST. Just write it on your hand, post a photo, and tag it with: @KennethCole #ItsInOurHands #VoteToExist #Vote2020 To request your ballot, apply online, postmark, email, or fax a completed application or letter request for the General Election Absentee ballot no later than 7 days (October 27, 2020) before the election. Don’t rely on the USPS, so do it ASAP. More info at: www.elections.ny.gov/votingabsentee
Levi’s was an early supporter of the Time to Vote initiative that launched in 2018 with the goal to increase voter turnout. Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., posted a passionate Op-Ed on CNN’s website recently that called on all CEOs to get on board. “Even in the best of times, voter turnout in the United States is one of the lowest in the developed world, and it doesn’t help that many Americans struggle every election season to get time off work to vote,” Bergh writes. “It’s our duty to make it as easy as possible for our employees to vote, especially given the unique challenges voters are facing this year.” The brand also has enlisted help from high-profile pals — including Hailey Bieber and Jaden Smith — as part of its new PSA to inspire more young people to cast ballots in November.
Maisonette proves it’s never too early to educate kids about the importance of voting. The children’s boutique clothes and decor website is now offering a Vote collection as part of its in-house Maison Me label, including colorful “VOTE” sweatshirts and face masks for moms who want to match with their mini me’s. The retailer also has a curated page of vote gear, like bangles, t-shirts and coloring books, from a range of children’s luxury brands on its site.
On Aug. 13, Naturalizer launched a shoe collaboration that draws attention to the importance of voting. Together with Rebecca Lee Funk, founder of activist network The Outrage, the Caleres-owned brand debuted the limited-edition Callie heeled boots that spell out the words “VOTE” in capital letters on the toes. The boots are available now on Naturalizer.com and TheOutrage.com for $150, with a portion of proceeds going to She Should Run, a nonprofit that supports women running for office.
Nike announced in early August it was linking up with “Time to Vote,” a nonpartisan effort to increase voter participation. Since voting laws and procedures vary across the country — especially this year — Nike has made a broad commitment to the cause. “This may include paid time off on Election Day, making Election Day a day without meetings or providing resources for mail-in ballots and early voting,” the company said in the statement.
The department store launched a nationwide nonpartisan voter participation initiative dubbed Make Your Voice Heard. The effort — a result of feedback from more than 50,000 employees — aims to galvanize both its workers and customers to cast their votes in the 2020 election. Nordstrom has also partnered with nonprofits When We All Vote and the National Urban League to offer a virtual learning series, digital volunteer opportunities, curbside voter registration and a suite of online resources related to the 2020 Census, as well as voter registration, education and participation.
Old Navy announced on Sept. 1 — National Poll Worker Recruitment Day — that it will pay its store employees to work the polls on Nov. 3. The company, which currently employs roughly 50,000 associates at its more than 1,000 brick-and-mortar locations across the United States, said that the compensation will equal a full eight hours of pay. (Employees who serve are also eligible for compensation from their local jurisdiction.)
Reebok’s second shoe launched through First Pitch was the Concept 2 Club C “Vote” shoe, inspired by the right to vote. As part of the First Pitch process, Reebok asked for 500 commitments from fans before it would produce the shoe. The campaign launched at midnight on Aug. 20 and was fully funded by the following day. The sneaker featured shoelaces in three colors (red, white and blue), with the word “vote” spelled out on the heel tab.
In addition to giving its employees Election Day off to vote or work at the polls, Rockport is hosting the Powering Your Vote consumer sweepstakes from Oct. 19-32 to encourage civic participation. The brand is giving away a total of 270 pairs of shoes — representing each winning electoral vote. Customers can enter to win at Rockport.com/power-your-vote, and each day, Rockport will select 54 winners from the submissions. Winners will then receive a custom digital coupon code that they can use to purchase any pair of shoes on the brand’s website.
Saucony paired up with Prinkshop, a brand that puts advocacy campaigns on clothes and accessories to help spread the word. Titled the “Women Running” collection, the capsule both supports female athletes as well as women running for office. A portion of the proceeds from the collab will benefit She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit helped women run for political office. The collection includes two new footwear iterations as well as a T-shirt, hat and tote bag; the “Women Running” capsule is available now at select running specialty retailers globally and at saucony.com.
Stacey Bendet x Lady Gaga
Stacey Bendet’s Creatively network and Lady Gaga’s Born This Way organization launched a campaign asking artists — including designers, animators, photographers and illustrators — to create a social-first campaign about voting. Creatives can submit their work here, through Sept. 24. The grand prize winner will get $10,000 and two finalists will each receive $2,500. Bendet told FN, “Our goal is straightforward and vital: Get out the vote –– in all ways possible –– for the November election, to elect candidates who will help build a kinder, braver, and more just world.” The voting campaign will run during October through Election Day.
Early this year, Madden launched an in-store campaign with Voto Latino to register young customers. Though the coronavirus halted some of those plans, the designer told FN other efforts are underway: “We will be shifting gears and focusing on digital efforts across all channels through November,” he said. “Safety at the polls and voter education will be a big part of that messaging, in addition to voter registration and how to vote by mail.” In addition, Steve Madden’s corporate U.S. offices will be closed on Nov. 3 so that employees have time to vote.
In late August, the New York footwear brand debuted a limited-edition version of its popular 5050 boot, a classic black style with the words “Vote” running down the back calf of each boot in a white interlocking font. Only 100 pairs are available, and 100 percent of the profits will go to the non-profit, non-partisan organization I Am A Voter, which supports nationwide voter participation.
NYC-based activewear brand Terez has partnered with public awareness organization “I am a voter” on a pair of vote-themed leggings. The capri-length style combines the brand’s signature bright pink hue with an abstract print inspired by the American flag, done in red, white and blue. Net proceeds from sales of the leggings will be donated to I am a voter.
This election season, Tommy Hilfiger is joining forces with Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization encouraging younger Americans to get out the vote. In addition to donating to the organization, Tommy Hilfiger will also be launching a unisex “Vote” T-shirt on Oct. 1 at tommy.com. The brand will also offer Hilfiger Club members a denim crossbody bag with Rock the Vote patches as a gift with purchase and will carry “Vote” stickers as giveaways in all store locations. It will also host voter registration booths in select locations on Oct. 4 and Oct. 12.
Toms has partnered with Vote.org, a Black-led nonprofit dedicated to simplifying political engagement and increasing voter turnout. As part of their united effort, Toms launched a #VoteReady campaign on social media featuring employees talking about the importance of voting in the November election. And on Sept. 9, the brand will unveil a suite of tools on Toms.com, to help customers check their registration status, request an absentee ballot, see their state’s specific mail-in deadlines and sign up for election reminders.