Michelle Obama

While Michelle Obama can do a lot for American designers, former New York City Mayor Ed Koch sees her potential on a grander scale.

The fashion world might still be abuzz about what Michelle Obama can do for American designers, but former New York City Mayor Ed Koch sees her potential on a grander scale.

This story first appeared in the February 3, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A big believer in buying American-made goods, he said Obama should champion a national campaign encouraging Americans to buy domestic goods.

“She has great credibility and wants to do public service,” said Koch, in a telephone interview Friday. “I can’t think of anything that could create greater respect for her than this. People would look at her and say, ‘That’s wonderful. I’m going to do that, too.’”

To try to boost the pulverized economy, there should be a nationwide effort to get Americans to buy U.S.-made products, and if need be, the government could cover the marketing cost, Koch suggested. A trademark could be developed so that shoppers could easily identify domestically made goods, he said.

“We do not have a tradition of buying American products — it’s not jingoistic,” Koch said.

Asked if he has floated the idea by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Koch said: “Nah, he’s got a lot of expertise. He doesn’t need my input.”

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