Public School Skewered Trump's "Make America Great Again" Hats

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.
There's been a recurring theme at New York Fashion Week this season: As soon as the lights dim on the runway, we've started asking ourselves, "How will this designer address [insert political issue, ranging from the immigration ban, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, or other executive order, here]?" Many labels' fall '17 collections tackled politics in one way or another, by way of white bandanas, pink pins, or feminist T-shirts. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne of Public School took a more pointed approach, sending a message to (or about) the new administration by appropriating one of its most recognizable emblems.

Public School's fall '17 runway opened with a model wearing a bright red cap that read "Make America New York" — a play, of course, on President Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign hats, with a "coastal elite" twist. The number "44 1/2" was stitched on the side.
"We wish the rest of the States were like New York from an inclusivity standpoint, from a diversity standpoint, from an action standpoint," Chow told Business of Fashion of the brand's riff on Trump's infamous red hats. Plus, the whole fall '17 collection was born out of a conversation about borders and the president's talk of building a wall, according to WWD: "We just started talking about these man-made constructs to keep people from each other, at the same time envisioning this world where if you’re a human being, you are a citizen of the world," Chow explained. "That you should be at home anywhere you go, regardless of what line you’ve crossed or what wall you’ve come over or what water you’ve crossed."

The brand isn't even the first fashion player to offer an alternative to the "MAGA" merch: Fashionista created "Make Fashion Week Great Again" caps last season — before Trump was elected. At Public School, though, the message was much more politically charged. A handful of models donned the caps (or a cropped sweatshirt version of the graphic) on the runway, as did Chow backstage. The brand also printed its timely slogan, "We Need Leaders," on the back of hoodies presented as part of its fall '17 collection.

It's a wrap! #PSNYFW17 #MakeAmericaNewYork

A photo posted by PUBLIC SCHOOL (@publicschoolnyc) on

By mimicking the exact style of Trump's "MAGA" hat, Public School leaves any ambiguity about its political affiliation out of the picture. (Then again, these weren't exactly secret: Chow and Osbourne designed T-shirts for the Hillary Clinton campaign last year.) Still, there's an irony in the brand's suggestions that all of America should be like New York — one of the many criticisms of the "liberal bubble" post-election. Of course, that's not what the designers meant: Their aim is to flip the script on one of the most politically-charged clothing items of 2016, from a symbol of divisiveness to one of inclusivity. However, the fact that you have to squint to tell that it's not, in fact, a pro-Trump item is pretty problematic.

A representative for Public School confirmed to Refinery29 that the hats were only made for the show, but the brand is now making moves to actually have them produced.
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