Vice President Kamala Harris’ inauguration marked a historic occasion for the first female, first Black and first South Asian person to serve in the second-highest office in the country. It was also a pivotal moment for Black fashion designers.
Yesterday for her swearing-in, the vice president opted for a brilliant purple coat and matching dress by Christopher John Rogers, a 27-year-old Black and queer designer who was named the 2020 CFDA American Emerging Designer of the Year. That evening, for the “Celebrating America” special, she opted for a powerful all-black tuxedo-style coat by Sergio Hudson, the Black designer behind the head-to-toe burgundy ensemble that former First Lady Michelle Obama wore earlier in the day.
And the night before the inauguration, Harris attended a COVID-19 memorial service in a custom camel coat by Pyer Moss, the brand founded by Kerby Jean-Raymond — an American-Haitian fashion designer who was honored as Person of the Year at the 2019 FN Achievement Awards. He was also one of the first power players in fashion to aid in the coronavirus fight by converting his New York office into a donation center for personal protective equipment and medical supplies.
According to marketing platform Launchmetrics, Harris brought in a total of $13 million worth of Media Impact Value for Black designers over the course of the past couple days. (MIV is a proprietary metric that assigns a true monetary value to marketing strategies across print, online and social media in order to calculate ROI.)
Broken down, that amounts to $5.1 million in MIV for Christopher John Rogers — $4.1 million online and $1 million via social media; $4.4 million for Sergio Hudson — $4 million online and $400,000 via social media; and $3.5 million for Pyer Moss — $1.6 million online and $1.9 million via social media. (The data, reported Launchmetrics, was analyzed between Jan. 19 and Jan. 20., and the figures are preliminary as online and social media posts are expected to increase over the coming days as more coverage is shared.)
Harris’ decision to pay homage to Black designers heralds a change in the White House wardrobe by bringing attention to independents who are gaining traction for their bold designs as well as for pushing for diversity in the broader fashion industry. The color of her inauguration ensemble was also notable: Purple is widely considered a symbol of bipartisanship and unity — the central theme of President Joe Biden’s inaugural address.