Days after celebrity-owned businesses like Tyra Banks and Jessica Alba's beauty companies as well as retailers such as Nordstrom and T.J. Maxx dropped Trump-associated products from their shelves, members of the fashion industry are calling for a boycott of Trump Models. Everyone from hair stylists to casting directors to makeup artists are pledging to cease all future working projects with the models represented by the agency.
To wit: Freelance hair stylist Tim Aylward posted a status on his personal Facebook page, vowing to discontinue working on jobs that involve talent from Trump Models. Many of Aylward's colleagues (whose identities we've concealed for the time being) added their commitments to the thread. To clarify, Aylward's decree is not to shame the models under contract with the agency, since it's common across the industry for models to take whatever contracts they can get (especially those just starting out), and each woman has her own reasons for working with the agency. But the hair stylist is looking out for his own brand's reputation.
"The general feedback I've gotten from people within the industry has been sympathetic for the models who are under contract with Trump," Aylward told Refinery29 exclusively. "But the real irony here — or perhaps something other industry members haven't made the connection of yet — is the fact that most of them are immigrants themselves, so I can only imagine how it feels to be professionally represented by the same person that believes you're lesser than, or less-deserving, than a native born American."
Aylward continued: "Boycotting Trump models was a personal choice that I thought long and hard about. I've worked with their models before and they're awesome people, but the bottom line for me was that I could not have my name or work used to promote someone like Trump. I refuse to be implicit in his brand of racism. And the idea of seeing my name printed on a piece of paper next to his makes me sick to my stomach."
The situation is indeed complicated, but it raises an important question about just how committed the fashion industry is to ridding any and all ties with the Trump name and its many businesses. We've gone from trying to figure out how to dress (and solve) a problem like Melania Trump to watching major designers and retailers back away from the family altogether. While the comments on Aylward's Facebook status include those in total agreement with his decision, many of whom, like the hairstylist, are concerned about the models themselves, who are caught in the middle of the media storm and thus may feel lost or unsure of whose hands to put their career in next. Or, really, if other agencies will even be willing to take them.
It goes without saying, though, that a few of the bigger names signed to Trump models won't have any problems finding new representation, such as icons like Pat Cleveland and Carol Alt. However, we can't imagine they won't be faced with an awkward conversation or two when asked why they've chose to remain signed to the troublesome agency.
We've reached out to several other artists who responded to Aylward's thread and will add their responses here once we hear back.