There’s still a woman in the presidential race — and her style is more Patagonia than Prada.
When Sen. John McCain picked little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate on Friday, he chose someone with a youthful vigor and, as only the second woman to ever run for national office on a major party ticket, an obvious appeal to her gender, which she immediately went after.
Palin donned corporate business attire — a black skirt suit, glasses and an updo — at the announcement in Dayton, Ohio. She is a mother of five, whose husband, Todd, is a lifelong Alaskan and a production operator on the North Slope of Alaska and a member of the United Steelworkers union.
Palin, once a TV sports reporter, was introduced to the fashion industry when she was featured in Vogue magazine in February along with Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Photographed at her home in Wasilla, Alaska, Palin wore Ralph Lauren, Levi’s and MaxMara for the shoot.
In the article, written by Rebecca Johnson, Palin joked her favorite designers were outdoor brands Patagonia and The North Face. She won the Miss Wasilla beauty contest 24 years ago, but Johnson wrote Palin has the “tough-girl Alaskan résumé that most politicians can only dream of….She has pulled fish out of the ocean with her own hands and shot caribou.”
Palin’s three daughters love clothes and enjoy shopping at the one Nordstrom in downtown Anchorage, Johnson wrote, “but growing up in Alaska in the Seventies, the governor ordered her clothes from a Sears catalogue.”
On Friday, the The Wall Street Journal’s Web site posted an excerpt from its magazine WSJ., to be published for the first time next week, in which Palin was interviewed about her fitness and diet.
“I wear layers of fleece and always a good outdoor waterproof trail shoe,” she told the Journal. “Right now, I’ve been running in Nike Air Structure Triax. And I always wear sunglasses. My kids tell me to put them on so I don’t freak people out when they see me with a goofy hairdo and no makeup.”
While many saw McCain’s pick of Palin as a way to capture female voters, it remains to be seen whether Palin’s lack of experience on the national stage will worry voters.
Nicole Miller said, “It is great to see the process continue to open up and become more inclusive. But from what little I know initially, I am not any more impressed with Sarah Palin’s stand on the important issues than I am with John McCain’s.”
Yeohlee Teng said, “I am for anything that empowers women.”
Apparel and textile industry groups know little about Palin and had mixed reactions.
“It sounds like she’s got a background in government and certainly a background supportive of business’ ability to compete and create jobs,” said Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Coalition, said, “Usually governors have a bit of receptivity toward helping attract investment and keep manufacturing in their state and maybe a greater understanding of how hard it is to keep good-paying jobs, but…that doesn’t necessarily translate into sound policy.”
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