America played the Trump card — and most of fashion woke Wednesday struggling to make sense of the country and its future.
Wall Street reassessed and welcomed President-elect Donald Trump, betting his fiery campaign rhetoric — and support from the Republican-led House and Senate — could translate into a truly functioning government and continued economic growth.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, after a frightful overnight drop in the futures market and rocky trading in Asia and Europe, bounced back, gaining 256.95 points, or 1.4 percent, to 18,589.69.
The finance crowd is used to making fast friends, but it was a quick turn even for traders, who pushed the Dow up 371 points on Monday as Clinton seemed ready to move into the Oval Office. But experts said investors were prepped for the potential upset after the Brexit vote that put Britain on a path out of the European Union.
Still, many saw the country entering a period of intense uncertainty given Trump’s bombastic style and his big promises to cut back immigration, build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and pursue an antitrade agenda.
The mood among the fashion industry’s many Hillary Clinton supporters swung from dismal to defiant, with many digging deep to find some kind of hope — the sentiment that pushed Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, but was this year overcome by a deep-seated anger among many disenfranchised working-class white voters.
“Today is the first day of the rest of our lives,” said Diane von Furstenberg, an avid Clinton supporter. “We must believe that our future is in our hands. More than ever, we must believe in good and the good of people. More than ever, we must study, learn, be open-minded, be generous and have compassion.”
Tory Burch echoed that sentiment. “Now more than ever a time to bring the country together.”
Trump, who made a bid for togetherness when he declared victory during a speech in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, gained traction and headlines throughout the election by stoking racial and ethnic fears.
The Trump win shook Public School designer Dao-Yi Chow, who took to social media to declare he had been living in a “fantastic bubble” in New York where “friends are mixed and we celebrate our differences.”
“The bubble finally burst and I woke up today to see what a dream I’ve been living,” Chow said. “But thank you America for the wake-up call. Thank you for setting the record straight. Thank you for smashing the grace and beauty I grew up around so I could see how much work I have to do to educate my children so they don’t get lulled to sleep like I did.”
Michael Kors skipped what would normally be a promotional no-brainer and declined to comment on the election, even though future First Lady Melania Trump wore a sleeveless ecru dress from the designer during her trip to the voting booth with her husband on Tuesday.
Futurist Faith Popcorn said Trump’s ascendency would reverberate well beyond the ballot box and in the larger society.
“I think you’re going to see women change their style to be more like him,” Popcorn said. “Donald Trump has taught us that we can be bad and we don’t have to play by the rules…and that being called ‘aggressive’ is a compliment. Suits will be suits of armor — from a straight jacket to a suit of armor.”
The final reckoning of the campaign played out in Manhattan, where some retailers were directly impacted by the continuing Trump-as-disruptor phenomenon.
Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was a scene of barricades, police, protesters, Trump supporters, international journalists and gawkers. A heavy police presence surrounded the tower and its neighboring southern block. While sales associates were at the Ralph Lauren, Breguet, Gucci and Omega stores, shoppers were not allowed through police checkpoints. The Gucci store, located inside Trump Tower, was staffed for the day and an associate said by phone that shoppers could gain entry to the flagship by requesting passage from the New York Police Department. However, on attempt, WWD was not allowed to cross the street and enter the store.
The chaos on Fifth Avenue caused Tiffany to cancel an event it was due to hold Wednesday to celebrate its collaboration with designer Eddie Borgo.
More broadly, industry executives seemed happy at least to finally move on and toward a holiday selling season that could actually be stronger than expected as shoppers leave behind the stress of the election.
“For the past two years, we have all been going through an incredibly negative and divisive campaign,” said Mickey Drexler, chairman and chief executive officer of the J. Crew Group. “Needless to say, it has been distracting and I am happy it’s over. We can now focus on getting back to business — onward and upward.”
Stephen I. Sadove, former chairman and ceo of Saks Fifth Avenue, also said it was time to get beyond the election: “Apparel and department stores is the segment of retail that needs to grow. If you were able to get two parties working together on accelerated infrastructure spending, that would create a huge number of jobs which could result in increased retail spending. We have a crumbling infrastructure. That’s the kind of thing we need to be doing.”
Bart Becht, Coty Inc. chairman, said: “We don’t anticipate there will be major impacts. The beauty industry has shown a great amount of resilience in the past 20 years and has consistently grown even during the financial crisis.…I don’t think one presidential election is going to change the global growth momentum of the industry.”
Still, the divisions among voters run deep and HSN Inc. ceo Mindy Grossman said Trump needed to “put our country back together again.”
She said: “Re-instill the sense of American hope and optimism. Open dialogue across the political aisle. Focus on solutions, not ideology. Give Americans something to believe in and give them confidence in the future of our country. If we can accomplish that, I firmly believe we will see economic growth, job creation and a healthy retail industry.”
There were also pockets of support for Trump.
“Just having the election over will be good for business. Neither candidate was popular. I think people are going to start to feel better now that it’s over,” said Allen Questrom, the former ceo of J.C.Penney Co. Inc., Federated Department Stores, Neiman Marcus and Barneys New York.
“I was happy Trump won because I do think we need a change in the way Washington has been operating,” Questrom said. “Middle America believes they are not being represented. I think he is going to be good for business. He’s a pragmatic guy despite some of the terrible things that were said. He’s got a big ego and certainly doesn’t want to look like the worst president ever. He’ll figure out what we need. He’s not going to eliminate trade. He’ll get good deals for America and we’ll still do trade with other countries. We don’t want to go back to Thirties when we stopped trade altogether.”
Bud Konheim, the ceo of Nicole Miller who voted for Trump, said, “Emotionally, I feel good about change. I’m in the fashion business so I always feel good about change. I embrace it. I wasn’t afraid of either candidate. I was in the crowd that felt that both were kind of dismal choices. The American people have spoken, and essentially for a couple of hundred years, the American people have been right and I go along with it.”
Allen Schwartz, creative director and ceo of ABS by Allen Schwartz, was also a Trump supporter: “I didn’t get caught up in his hairdo, his personality. I’m looking for results. Obama didn’t deliver. There’s a lot of waste in Washington. I’m politicked out. [Trump’s] not a politician, he’s a businessman, and he can’t be bought. He shocked the world. I think he’ll repeal Obamacare in the first 100 days. I think he’ll go back to Reaganomics, which was good.”
While many expect Trump to move quickly on major tax cuts, just what he can accomplish once in office and what it will mean for the economy remain big question marks.
“It is not clear whether he believes what he says or whether he says what is politically expedient,” said George Bittlingmayer, Wagnon Distinguished Professor of Finance at the University of Kansas School of Business.
If Trump’s presidency is good for the economy, Bittlingmayer said it would be because he turns out to follow a different course than he has been advocating.
But all that still lies in the future. For now, consumers might well be ready to let loose.
Kit Yarrow, consumer psychologist at Golden Gate University, said, “There’s going to be a period of psychological readjustment and it will vary across consumer segments and then I think there will be a great relief and people will feel like they don’t have any control over this and people will move on.”
Yarrow said that could happen quickly.
“People are exhausted and tired of feeling bad or angry or whatever,” she said, noting the holidays would relieve that. “We are so good at ultimately moving on.”
Marshal Cohen, the NPD Group’s chief industry analyst, agreed: “Within two days, things will be back to normal. Retailers will use the ‘election is over’ [tag] to get consumers back to shopping. They will play every card they can.”