The Election Question: First Presidential Priority

It’s time to get back to work — and come together. 

The polls are closed and the counting has begun in the most turbulent and — many say consequential — U.S. election in generations. 

As millions voted by mail or in person in recent weeks — masked up, socially distanced and at times waiting for rain-soaked hours to make their voices heard — WWD asked more than 75 fashion leaders what the next administration’s first priority should be. 

The responses add up to a kind of secular prayer in the midst of overlapping crises, a plaintive cry for something more from Washington. 

More unity, more coordination to overcome COVID-19, more progress on social justice, more support for small businesses and the unemployed, more work on climate change. More, more, more.

The question was party-neutral, asked as former vice president Joe Biden surged in the polls and President Trump fought to pull out another ballot-box stunner with the help of swing states or the Electoral College. But some rejected even the possibility of four-more years of a Trump administration and preferred to focus on what a President Biden could do. 

Everyone saw the stakes as high.

Cynthia Rowley neatly summed up the sentiment: “We have never been in a more dramatic intersection of hope and fear, with the fate of the nation hanging in the balance.” 

Beyond the omnibus wish for unity and the healing of a fractured people, fashion’s wish for the top of a presidential to-do list includes a more coordinated response to the coronavirus and real social justice reforms.

Chip Bergh, president and chief executive officer of Levi Strauss & Co., said, “I don’t think life will return to normal until the pandemic is clearly in the rearview mirror.” 

Designer Tracy Reese of Hope for Flowers signaled out the structural problem of racial equity, “When your foundation is cracked and broken — nothing you do will have real, lasting success.”

There is much to do, all at once and under enormous pressure, be it the coronavirus case count, an angry citizenry in the streets or economic collapse. 

And to get any of it done and definitely turn the page, Washington must also examine itself. 

As Vera Wang said: “Centuries of culture, business, learning, family structures, friendships have forever been changed. Politics must change.”

The president has enormous power and resources to initiate the kind of change that sweeps through broader society — or at least try. 

Here, fashion leaders tell the next president where to start by answering the question: “What should be the first priority of the next administration?”

Ralph Lauren: 

On his first day in office, I hope our elected president will reflect on the great responsibility he has been given to be a president for all Americans, those who voted for him and those who didn’t. That he will vow to find a way to remind all citizens of our common humanity and the values that are the bedrock of our country — hope, optimism and freedom for all.

Manny Chirico, chairman and ceo, PVH Corp.:  

The next president’s priorities have to be unifying the country while celebrating our differences — and recognizing that doing those things together makes us a stronger society. He also must take definitive and effective steps to end the COVID-19 pandemic, which is undeniably affecting the life of every American.

Todd Snyder: 

Make a proper full-length sentence.

Mary Dillon, ceo, Ulta Beauty, and chair, Retail Industry Leaders Association:

Retailers across the country have collectively made significant investments to work toward keeping our spaces safe and giving our guests ways to shop comfortably and confidently. With that, we need a national COVID-19 response strategy inclusive of topics such as masks, social distancing and other, COVID-19-related challenges. As leaders in this industry, we are responsible for the safety of our associates and guests in-store and would love to do so in a uniform way to ensure stability across our businesses and our workforces, large and small. Looking forward, we need the administration’s help to clearly set expectations and normalize standards so we can all continue to take care of each other. 

Kerry O’Brien, ceo, designer, Commando: 

Listen to women. They are game-changers.

Tom Ford: 

Mandate masks. Address the coronavirus. This must be the number-one priority.

Matthew Shay, president and ceo, National Retail Federation:

Regardless of who is in office, the top priority for our nation is a comprehensive plan to bring the pandemic under control while allowing our economy to function. Whether that means masks, more testing, a vaccine or a cure, too much is at stake to allow this crisis to continue. Government relief for businesses and individuals is important, but no amount of stimulus is enough if the underlying threat of the virus itself cannot be eliminated or controlled.

Gabriela Hearst: 

The president’s first job is to focus on climate crisis as we have less than five years to set forth the change to secure a safe future for the next generation.

Michael Kors:

Regardless of which candidate wins and is elected president, they need to immediately come up with a firm national plan that deals with the pandemic in every way — from the medical and the economic to the humanitarian. My greatest wish is to see divisiveness and polarization in this country end and to see a more empathetic America. Our leadership needs to lead by example and bring the country together.

Chip Bergh, president and ceo, Levi Strauss & Co.:

We’ve got to put this pandemic behind us. It’s getting help out there for small businesses and families from an economic point of view and really making progress, clamping down on this pandemic with a sense of urgency. The absence of coordination has resulted in us not being able to get the pandemic under control. I don’t think the economy will recover, I don’t think life will return to normal until the pandemic is clearly in the rearview mirror.

Cynthia Rowley: 

We have never been in a more dramatic intersection of hope and fear, with the fate of the nation hanging in the balance. With equal priority and urgency, institute a national mask mandate, repair relations with the American people, and demonstrate leadership that people here and around the world can believe in. 

Too much to ask?

Maria Cornejo: 

Launch a stimulus package and get COVID-19 under control.

Richard Baker, governor, executive chairman, ceo, Hudson’s Bay Co.: 

It is clear that the most immediate challenge still facing our economy and our country is the ongoing pandemic. While we’re pleased that nonessential retailers are operating and serving customers, our national leaders need to agree on a coordinated approach to fully and safely overcome this challenging time. Once the pandemic is under control, our country needs clarity on health care and implementation of tax policies that allow small businesses to thrive. However, no matter what the priorities are for the elected administration, we need to be unified and inclusive as a nation in order to move our country forward.

Steven B. Tanger, ceo, Tanger Outlets:

There are three key priorities the winner of the presidential election should consider to get the country on the right track again economically. The first is passing a significant stimulus package that puts money in the hands of citizens. The second is attracting global companies and their business interests to the U.S. by keeping corporate taxes low, which helps with job creation. Finally, both sides of the political aisle need to shift from confrontation to collaboration, passing bipartisan legislation that will further stimulate the economy and support the American people during these uncertain times.

Tracy Reese, Hope for Flowers:

For me, it’s racial equity. Right now, it’s not in this current president’s consciousness. If we can work toward healing these centuries-old wounds and create equity among the races in this country. When your foundation is cracked and broken — nothing you do will have real, lasting success. It’s imperative for this country, and the world, we have to have a strong foundation built on real freedom, real equity, and that’s the most important thing to me.

Marina Moscone: 

Health care. I have been left staggered by the American health care system since moving here 13 years ago. As a [non-American] Italian-South African having grown up in Canada, I observed universal health care where everyone is afforded access to a level of health care that exceeds expectations. When a nation’s population has something as fundamentally essential like accessible health care for all, then it can go on to address “secondary” priorities such as education!

Marigay Mckee, cofounder, Fernbrook Capital:

The new president, whomever it may be, should understand and embrace a country divided by the pandemic, divided by the social unrest as a result of it and frustration on social issues, and the need for reform to bridge these divides in America. We need a process to create jobs for the entire population accompanied by health and education reforms so everyone has access to a good education and good health care coverage. We need criminal justice reform (that is sensible) and doesn’t allow criminals to roam the streets. We need a process that embraces the mental health issues this country’s population has with clear strategies to combat the growth of mental health issues, depression and growing drug abuse — all of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. We need policies that ensure the whole population has access to a vaccine — and we need a president to unite and unify the divisions and anger that is dividing this great country. We need kindness and empathy in the light of these reforms and we need inclusivity and opportunity for the general population. If we unite as a country, we will be stronger and more able to tackle these issues to foster economic growth and help businesses scale and come back with renewed vigor and energy like the entrepreneurs who built this great country and the land of the free.

Patrick Robinson:

I think a strong stimulus plan that helps all Americans survive until we see the light at the end of the tunnel of COVID-19. Trump and [U.S. Senate majority leader Mitch] McConnell’s Senate failed the American people and hopefully both will be gone in 2021.

Robert Chavez, president, ceo, Hermès Americas:

The first order of business for the next president has to be to unite our country again. We are bitterly divided in so many ways, and we need to be reminded of the common values and freedoms we all share. Enough of the divisive rhetoric. No more blue or red. We can agree to disagree, and do it in a civil manner. We are ALL Americans.

Alex Bolen, ceo, Oscar de la Renta: 

We are a deeply divided country. While this is nothing new, attempts by our elected officials on the right and left to simply gain political power — the Supreme Court nomination, the stimulus negotiation are only the most recent examples — have pushed us even further apart. There has been a shameful dereliction of duty by Republicans and Democrats.

As such, the newly elected president should meet early, often and in person with the leader of the other party, offering his personal commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve meaningful compromise on the issues before Congress. Enough “tit-for-tat” — just get in a room and find solutions that are workable for both parties.

Hope springs eternal for real bipartisanship.

Alexandra Waldman, cofounder/creative director, Universal Standard:

I’m answering as a Canadian, so I have no right to vote in this election. As a Canadian who has benefited from this particular thing, I think universal health care would be incredibly important. [Knowing that] taking care of yourself and your family does not put in danger of bankrupting your life — that’s an incredibly important thing.

Anna Sui:

I think first and foremost, we need a clearly united and responsible federal directive for the coronavirus pandemic. It is essential to get this under control in order to move forward with healing and the recovery of this country.

Donna Karan: 

The first act we need is for the president to help us put the pandemic under control with a clear policy. We need the prioritization of health care for all Americans, and that includes mental health services. We need a roadmap for job creation in ways that are kind to the environment. And mostly, we need a message of unity for all Americans. Of course, this is my hope for Biden and Kamala [Harris].

​Emilie Rubinfeld, president, Carolina Herrera: 

The elected president must prioritize uniting and mending a divided America to effectively lead the nation through this time of crisis while protecting the country’s most vulnerable citizens and safely rolling out a free vaccine to begin our collective recovery. 

Heron Preston:

The newly elected president should dive in and implement what they have been campaigning for into legislation. There is a list of changes we have been demanding as a society — health care, defunding the police, environmental protection, ending systemic racism. Yet we haven’t made impactful progress. I would like to see strong action and initiative first and foremost in the next presidency.

Virginia C. Drosos, ceo, Signet Jewelers: 
The American people are strong, resilient and brilliant in every way. We are a nation of diamonds, but even diamonds need care. Right now, we are in need of unity and [the President’s]  message must unite and inspire us. It is the only way we will embrace our differences and forge ahead as one magnificent country, full of hope and prosperity for all.
Derek Lam:  
I hope that the newly elected President makes a real, concerted effort to heal this nation, in all the implications that it implies. I think we are all collectively exhausted from turmoil and looking to leadership for a way forward to healing the body, mind and soul.

Gary Wassner, ceo, Hildun Corp.: 

Very hard to pick one priority, but since I must, the president needs to stop the hatred that’s been generated amongst Americans. If he can do that, then all else will be possible — a plan to control COVID-19, a positive effort to recognize and put an end to systemic racism, the ability to create wealth generation opportunities for those in the middle class and below, and following the rebuilding of trust and respect among Americans, economic recovery will be possible. In my opinion, bringing the country back together as one country with one general purpose of creating better, safer, fairer and healthier lives for everyone will allow us to deal with and solve the other issues.

Jane Siskin, ceo and founder, Cinq à Sept: 

I hope our new president will foster a renewed sense of unity and encourage people to focus on what unites us, not what divides us.

Adam Lippes: 

The first thing the new president must do is lead. Lead on COVID-19, lead on climate, lead on foreign policy, and lead on our country’s unity.

Alejandra Alonso Rojas: 

As president, his first priority should be to reunite the nation and reinstate confidence in a brighter future.

B Michael and Mark-Anthony Edwards:

The list of concerns facing the country’s new chief executive — old and new, chronic and acute, social, economic, military, and geopolitical — is overshadowed only by the universe of ideas about how to solve them.

As a country, we must devise tangible solutions for the Office of the President, rather than to any particular occupant. This would reflect, then, not the controversies of the campaign and individual candidates, but rather the most promising solutions to America’s most pressing problems, as identified by America’s brightest minds in their respective fields.

We are inspired by something the late John F. Kennedy said: “The times are too grave, the challenge too urgent, and the stakes are too high to permit the customary passions of political debate.”

Josie Natori: 

Pass the stimulus bill quickly.

Diane von Furstenberg: 

The president should heal the country both emotionally and literally (COVID-19). We need to unify and show the resiliency and the goodness of America. An America who is inclusive, inspiring and a true example of democracy!

Daniella Kallmeyer: 

We’ve all been emotionally strained leading up to this election. It’s more important than ever that the new president’s peaceful transition of power is in both words and action. A message of unity should include the president denouncing white supremacy and protections for the most vulnerable. I’d like to hear a plan to defund the police, [improve] access to free education and health care, make the Electoral College redundant, expand the Supreme Court to reflect the American people, come out for LGBTQ-plus and women’s rights, invest in communities, fill the cabinet with women and people of color…but that’s all wishful thinking. Unite the country as best as possible.

Steve Rendle, chairman, president and ceo, VF Corp.: 

I hope that we as a country begin to look for things we can unify around and really start to pull ourselves together.

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, Proenza Schouler:

First and foremost, regardless of where one stands on particular issues, what we feel we need most during this time of extraordinary division is solid action that starts to bridge the intense partisan gap we are experiencing. Reaching across the aisle to foster a sense of unity and togetherness amongst us all feels like the right first move for what we hope is the new president.

Becca McCharen-Tran, founder/creative director, Chromat:

I would say send more stimulus checks to every single person in the USA, abolish police and prisons, pay reparations for slavery, protect trans rights and sign the Green New Deal.

Bethann Hardison: 

[The first thing the president should do] is to initiate the idea of our Democracy, reminding our nation that we are the United States of America. We need to get on with being progressive in improving our country for all. That should be the mission, then the pandemic, health care, education, police revision, environment.

Mark Badgley and James Mischka: 

Day One: Turn over the entire country’s resources — military, industrial, social — to the scientists; they can lead us out of this pandemic.

Robert D’Loren, chairman and ceo, Xcel Brands:

A priority must be a consistent policy that is focused on creating and sustaining jobs here in the U.S. It begins with tariff reformation on manufacturing equipment, fabrics, etc., imported into the U.S. These are vital materials that will encourage job creation and support the “Made in America” effort that is so important to the health of our country.

Stan Herman: 

I am old enough to remember the Roosevelt years. And, obviously, Mr. Biden does too, he reads his history. He should call an emergency Congress with every single member of the Senate and House of Representatives and wrap his arms around the room, no matter whether they agree or not. Clear a path for the next four years and our future, welcome diversity, and listen to science. Strength comes from inclusion — and it’s worth the fight to achieve it.

Ulla Johnson: 

I think the most important first step for the new presidency will be to begin the process of healing the seemingly insurmountable divide that has opened up in this country, of bringing forth a language and set of actions intended to foster unity, mutual respect, connectedness, and hope. 

Wes Gordon, creative director, Carolina Herrera: 

The first thing the newly elected president should do is unify the country. This has been an incredibly divisive, polarizing election season, and the president will need to bring everyone back together as Americans.

LaQuan Smith:

Honestly, the most pressing thing the president has to do is get a hold on the coronavirus. That’s literally the first thing that comes to mind. Not only find a way to curb the virus itself, but also the economic turn that it has taken.

Tommy Hilfiger:

Everyone is understandably anxious about the future and feeling divided by their views. Regardless of who wins, my biggest hope is that our president can bring back a united confidence, optimism and trust for our people.

Steve Lamar, president and ceo, American Apparel and Footwear Association:

We need to sustain the economy through stimulus and better management of the COVID-19 pandemic until the economy can sustain itself, and that is not likely until after a vaccine is developed and widely deployed. At the same time, we need to make sure we don’t degrade our economic situation; that means no new tariffs and immediate action to relieve our industry of the crushing tariff burden it is already facing.

Deirdre Quinn, ceo, Lafayette 148: 

We need a clear message and a comprehensive plan for dealing with COVID-19 and getting the economy back on track. Consumers and the country in general need reassurance and confidence going forward in 2021. It’s essential to get the economy moving, shoppers shopping and businesses flourishing again.

Stacey Bendet, ceo and creative director, Alice + Olivia: 

The new president should focus on uniting our country. We have become systemically divided, we need a leader who will work to bring our nation back together to create a future world where we are united in an effort to mend so many cultural, environmental and political fractures.

Michael Saiger, founder and creative director, Miansai:

Now more than ever, I think it’s imperative we have a president who represents what’s best for not only our planet, but the well-being of the coming generations. I have a daughter and another on the way, so I believe a leader that champions antiviolence programs, strengthens our education systems, unites the people and tackles issues that will affect my children and others as they grow is crucial. It is important we have a president that not only recognizes these issues but actively works on improving them.

Michelle Smith:

Equality. Ending systemic racism. Ending the COVID-19 pandemic and putting nationwide systems in place to prevent and control future outbreaks.

Monica Rich Kosann:

I would like the president to speak strongly to the power of unity. We are one country, one people. One goal. I hope this will be the message.

Narciso Rodriguez: 

I am hoping Biden begins by trying to unify our country. The “us-versus-them environment” that Trump has created and perpetuated has hurt this nation. It will take a long time to repair and will be difficult to navigate. But this change will help us reinstate the trust in our great institutions, replace hatred with empathy, and will look to rebuild this democratic nation back to its former position as a global leader. 

Tory Burch:

The president needs to implement a national strategy to combat the coronavirus and to work with Congress to pass a strong economic recovery bill. Support for small business needs to be at the heart of our recovery, and that means we need grants, low-interest loans and affordable child care, along with stipulations to ensure that women- and minority-owned businesses get their fair share of any government funds.

Eileen Fisher:

Addressing climate change and its impact on future generations is critical. To alter our current trajectory, we need the government and business leaders of all industries working in concert since no single entity can change the outcome on its own. If the apparel industry had regulatory support from the administration, we could actually have a significant, positive impact on the environment — be it through decreasing carbon emissions and plastic microfibers or modernizing and innovating through agriculture.

Matt Rubel, chairman and ceo, Empower: 

To set a tone of unity and inclusion. The president should speak with clarity to all and set a nonpartisan tone. A tone that celebrates the American ideal. A recognition of what we have achieved as a nation and system and clarity of the challenges to build a more perfect union built on a foundation of freedom and inclusion for all. Then a clear priority on what he will focus on. So for me, it’s to show inclusion in his approach and an even, steady hand.

Greg Petro, ceo, First Insight:

I believe that whomever takes office is going to have to have the concept of the needs of people. In my mind, it starts with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The basis of all foundation is safety. My fundamental belief system is our citizens should be comfortable and safe. People, innocent individuals who are just living their lives out have a fundamental right to feel and be safe. I think it’s the government’s fundamental responsibility to provide that level of security. That fundamentally speaks to a number of areas and issues, first and foremost, there are external factors that we’ll always face as a society, whether it will be global warming, pandemics, but I think the government and the leaders of our government, starting with the president of the U.S., is to provide a societal structure that allows for people to feel safe, given all the other challenges. If you can’t feel comfortable in your house, or going shopping, or doing anything, everything else breaks down after that.

Lela Rose:

The first thing I would like to see our next president do is to give a great-hearted speech that unites us as a country and gives us hope that we are still the United States of America, the leader of the free world. Unifying us as countrymen and women tops my list.

Victor Glemaud:

On Jan. 21, 2021, our new administration needs to immediately address the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Families have been left destitute, kids have been unable to learn properly — some for almost one year — while businesses have withered away. An immediate federal economic plan is needed to curtail the downward trajectory our country has been on since March.

Phillip Lim:

The first issue President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris should address is reuniting our country! The past four years of trauma, misinformation, gaslighting and fear mongering have revealed a further divided America and has chipped away at the domestic experiment. I believe that we are all collectively in various states of PTSD and in order to move forward we must heal and become a singular country of differences once again. This is the only way to restore the soul of America and become a beacon of hope, liberty and justice for all.

Patricia Field:

For me, the next issue for the next president is the COVID-19 pandemic. As it affects every area of our lives, including our economy, I want Dr. [Anthony] Fauci back! When Dr. Fauci said in early March the best thing you could do is go home and stay there, I closed down my business, went home and stayed there. You can see, I believe that you should listen to Dr. Fauci, because he is smart, honest and sincere. If we had listened to Dr. Fauci, we would not be in this condition today. Hopefully, the next president will agree with me. Of course, that’s if it’s Biden.

Wen Zhou:

Our country has never been in such desperate need of unity and it is imperative that healing the divisive nature of our nation becomes the main focus. We need to come together and move forward with one collective goal and end the spread of false and damaging narratives that do not serve us. We are all Americans and we need to prioritize the healing and the livelihood of the citizens who make this country so uniquely diverse. Most importantly, tackling COVID-19 with facts and scientific backing is key to resetting the chaos of our current climate and rehabilitating our communities. Once we take care of our people, we can work toward rebuilding a strong economic infrastructure that properly serves each and everyone of us.

Ellen Pompeo, actor: 

Listen to the scientists and the doctors and make a nationwide mandate to wear masks, because there wouldn’t be any shutdowns if everybody just wore masks. It’s not rocket science. If we had all been wearing masks in February, when they knew that this was happening, we wouldn’t have seen half of the shutdowns. It’s all this unnecessary chaos being created. It’s unnecessary for everybody else, but I think the current administration finds the chaos very necessary. It’s too bad people can’t see through that. Why is a lack of empathy something to be celebrated? Why does a lack of empathy make you tough? Caring and having empathy is a sign of strength, not a weakness.

Fe Noel: 

I think the first thing that the next president needs to do is ARREST THE COPS WHO KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR, and to lead a new national conversation on police accountability. I’ve been disappointed like many others with the lack of accountability for​ law enforcement when they violate the rights of others. I think it is a conversation that needs to be had, and I think the large-scale protests across the world this summer have demonstrated just how interested our communities are in reform. This should be a focal point of the next administration. It would go a long way to demonstrate to the many young people who were in the streets that their advocacy was needed and heard.

Stephen Burrows: 

Health care for all, COVID-19 and the economy.

Dennis Basso: 

The most important issue is to be focused on the pandemic, working toward a vaccine, and the opening up of America to be back where it was with business, with travel. We need to strive toward getting the United States working and back to normal.

André Leon Talley: 

The first order of our next president is to try and heal the land, bring a sense of unity and also start a commission to find a way to reform the Supreme Court after this debacle of [newly installed Associate Justice Amy Coney] Barrett. What a disaster.

Mara Hoffman: 

The strength of any successful administration at a baseline level, be it in the private or the public sector, would be the ability to focus on multiple issues simultaneously. While the weight of this question is enormous and the corresponding answer even more so, my first reaction is, “Whatever it is, it has to be focused on through the lens of racial, social and environmental justice.” There is no other way to move forward on a presidential level. The voices of the marginalized, oppressed and disenfranchised must be at the forefront of every single issue and decision made. The Earth’s voice — our planet — its health needs to be at the mind’s forefront, too, because we will have no issues to focus on if we become extinct, which is exactly where we are headed now.

Dani Reiss, ceo, Canada Goose Holdings:

Being Canadian, and your neighbor to the North, I hope the next administration prioritizes a return to normalized international relations. We do better, all of us, when we work together to elevate our global community.

Kim Glas, president and ceo, National Council of Textile Organizations:

Without a doubt, the next administration must ensure our trade policy and enforcement activities promote growing our domestic manufacturing base. We must crack down on predatory trade practices and create sound and strategic policies to help bolster the investment in the domestic production chain. It’s critical for our industry that we have a strong trade policy that does not undermine or erode critical supply chains in the Western Hemisphere, a key export destination for U.S. fibers, yarns and fabrics.

A top priority must also be to strengthen the domestic personal protective equipment supply chain to achieve a longer-term goal of ending our over-reliance on China and onshoring the production of critical medical textiles. The first steps should include adopting and enacting two core policies — expanding the rules of the Berry Amendment to all federal agencies to cover critical PPE industries, and ensuring long-term federal contracts for PPE to spur investment and create jobs in the U.S. These are central elements of pending bipartisan legislation that could be easily enacted. We urge the next administration to act swiftly to support the U.S. textile industry and other sectors, which took heroic efforts to build a domestic PPE supply chain virtually overnight at the onset of the pandemic, producing millions of face masks, gowns, testing swabs and other critical medical items. Building a permanent PPE supply chain in the United States is of paramount importance to ensuring our country’s national health security and its ability to confront the next health care crisis head-on.

Willy Chavarria:

The first thing our 46th president needs to do is to make a global announcement denouncing white supremacy and issue reparations.

Tracey Travis, executive vice president and chief financial officer, the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.:

My own personal opinion would be COVID-19. When you see the resurgence that’s occurring in this country and in other countries as well, clearly the pandemic is something that we’re certainly as a company focused on as it relates to our employees and I would imagine that the president would be focused on that as well.

Scott Studenberg, founder and creative director, Baja East:

Following a term of a “president” where we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic, nationwide protests and looting over basic human rights issues, our country is in complete disarray and divided. My hope is for the new president (Biden) to take steps in uniting our country again by not making compromises on important issues such as the bailout bill that will help to support those in this time of great need.

Jason Kibbey, ceo, Higg Co.:

I think it can only be climate change. So much rests on this that we don’t even anticipate. Everything we touch from an environmental to social dimension is going to be impacted by whatever the new president does on climate change.

Marc Keiser, cofounder and creative director, Keiser Clark:

In President Biden’s first days (yes, Biden, because I don’t want to imagine another four years of Trump), he needs to focus on national police reform by mandating every police officer in the United States is equipped with body-worn cameras. Every day across this country we witness gross police misconduct and egregious police brutality, largely and disproportionately against Black Americans. Numerous studies have found the use of BWCs led to reductions in crime and complaints against police officers, and an overall increase in approval ratings and interactions between police and civilians. Numerous police departments highlight budgetary restrictions on why this hasn’t been implemented. But as we all learned this summer following the murder of George Floyd, the budgets are there. The U.S. should also remove the U.S. exception to the 1925 Geneva Protocol reserving the right to use tear gas for riot control, and [the] millions of dollars already allocated in the budget for tear gas can be transferred to purchase BWCs and BWC-footage storage. Right now, across this country, people are hurting and people are angry. We need reform, we need trust in our executive branch, and in our government, and that starts with the individuals who “enforce” those laws — the people who protect and serve us.

Pierre Davis, founder and designer, No Sesso: 

The newly elected president should ACKNOWLEDGE all of the pain and suffering that has been endured this year, instill hope and strength, and empathize with all people living in this country despite their differences or unique identities. We need to feel like the president is serving all of us — not only representing but leading through service — in order to ensure safety, optimism, growth, strength and, of course, happiness. At a human level, everyone wants that feeling.

Tia Adeola:

Try to find a solution to this pandemic.

Yeohlee Teng: 

Start by taking a deep breath and then calm the people down. The president has to inspire confidence and trust, and it begins by being truly who you are — a being who cares for others and believes that together we stand.

Kenneth Cole:

The president’s first priority should be to unify America without regard to race, religion, or political party. Instead of building walls, he needs to build bridges that will restore our country’s collective health and well-being.

Norma Kamali: 

I would like the president to initiate a national election law that gets passed through Congress that would limit the amount of money that is allowed to be spent by each candidate or party, and to limit the time to campaign to six months. There would be huge fines applied for not following the rules. There should be three debates, with only the candidates. They each ask a question, the opponent has three minutes to respond and the person who asked the question has three minutes to rebut, and they each ask six questions. Give us a break.

Jamie Salter, founder, chairman, ceo, Authentic Brands Group:

“For so many in the fashion industry, the impact of the pandemic has been significant. I’m hopeful for a cure and rooting for a swift economic recovery. The president should support retail from the ground up so that we can continue creating jobs on both the associate and corporate levels. At the industry level, a more equitable approach to trade with countries like China is essential to mitigating tariffs and ultimately creating a more sustainable economy and a better future for all Americans.”

Abrima Erwiah, Studio 189 cofounder:

I think it’s fundamental that our new president focuses on unifying our country. Our country is becoming more and more divided every day. More efforts need to be placed toward bringing us together and supporting citizens so that we can address and tackle the issues that are vital and critical toward the development of our nation. It is fundamental with this election and the months following it, regardless of who becomes president, that we show that it is possible to live and uphold our democracy and to prove that the “great experiment” that is America is possible. The issues at stake are too pressing and the consequences are too severe. Around 227,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 and many others have suffered, including people that are dear to myself and all of us. These are not statistics. They are our loved ones. 

Issues that need to be addressed urgently include the coronavirus, health care, the environment, racial tensions and systematic racism, the economy, international relations/diplomacy, Big Tech (data protection, privacy, election interference etc.) and education.

Heath care and the environment [need to be addressed]. Between COVID-19 and climate change, we really cannot wait to make serious changes. Ask folks on the West Coast, who have had to wear masks for COVID-19 and the wildfires. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted people of color, who are essential workers and were exposed in greater numbers. Likewise, environmental injustice continues to ravage vulnerable communities who have been underserved for far too long.

Emily Bode

It must be a priority for our president to address the racial injustice in our country. 

Heidi Zak, cofounder and ceo, ThirdLove:

I think the first thing the new president should do is roll out another COVID-19-related relief package. I’m personally very concerned about small businesses, if we don’t do something by year end one-third of all San Francisco Bay area restaurants will be permanently closed. (The company is based in San Francisco).

Abi Lierheimer, cofounder and creative director, Bobblehaus:

On a day-to-day basis, there’s complacency toward the sharply declining standard of decency that we, as Americans, have toward each other. This sentiment starts in the White House, where all forms of discrimination have been allowed. When anti-China rhetoric continues to turn into full-fledged violence toward Asian Americans, there is still discrimination. When fear and distrust of each other manifest into violence against Black communities, immigrants, refugees, the poor, the disenfranchised, the mentally unwell and the disabled, there is still discrimination. The pending outcome of the election has, already, prompted preparation for violent outcomes targeted toward these groups of people. The newly elected president shouldn’t promote the narrative of power over progress. The president needs to, first, restore our standards of behavior and basic human decency.

Vera Wang:

The 2020 election has been a test like no other in my lifetime, casting an irrefutable focus as a nation on all that both binds and divides us. Additionally we face the pressure, fear, and confusion of a virus which tears at the very fabric of our lives globally. Centuries of culture, business, learning, family structures, friendships have forever been changed. Politics must change. The next President of the United States must prioritize saving lives in every sense: the sick, the abused, the underprivileged, the unemployed, the young, the old, the poor, first responders.…The list goes on. But in the end, it is about humanity, justice, equality and healing.

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