You Have To See This Kanye-Inspired Hillary Merch

If you're with her but haven't yet found any pro-Hillary Clinton gear that you're really into, this might be the 2016 election merch you've been waiting for. I Feel Like Hillz was launched on Monday by writer and content strategist Molly Smith, a Yeezy fan "who's always had the entrepreneurial bug and usually has a passion project," she says.

Fashion brands, like Tanya Taylor, Rag & Bone, Public School, and Marc Jacobs, have rolled out T-shirts that are part of Clinton's official #MadeForHistory initiative. But Smith's take on HRC-repping gear is independently produced (a.k.a., not technically condoned by Clinton's campaign). It's also exceptionally zeitgeist-y: It taps into the Vetements-propelled streetwear vibes and merch mania that dominate fashion's current trend cycle.

The Life Of Pablo-inspired garb, as well as stencils (if you'd rather take a more DIY approach to flaunting your presidential predilections) are now available at Smith has looked into a potential brick-and-mortar pop-up with other pro-Hillary merch designers and progressive websites, but for now, you can only buy it directly from her site.

Ahead, Smith fills us in on how she whipped up the most topical take on HRC threads we've seen yet.
Photo: Courtesy of I Feel Like Hillz.

How did the concept for I Feel Like Hillz come about?
"I am a huge Kanye fan, so the seed of the idea was planted when I was scouring eBay for TLOP merch — I was specifically looking for the hoodie that says 'Any rumor you ever heard about me was true and legendary.' I love that lyric so much, because he’s basically saying, 'The more you talk about me, the more legendary I become.' This was just before Hillary won the primary, so the haters were coming from all sides. I thought, How rad would it be if Hillary could just own the negative things that people say about her? Why is everyone so afraid of the female badass? I decided to continue along those lines and make merch that celebrates Hillary, and that people our age would understand, identify with, and be excited to wear."

Why did you dub the project "I Feel Like Hillz"?
"It’s a total play on I Feel Like Pablo, but with an extra layer of meaning, because we want to explore how people actually 'feel like Hillz,' i.e. how they relate to her. I originally thought the name should be I Feel Like Hillary, to appeal to a wider audience. But young people get Hillz — it’s what we’d call her if she were our friend. It’s also superior from a visual and phonetic standpoint."
Photo: Courtesy of I Feel Like Hillz.

The pieces clearly reference some big fashion trends right now: merch and spiffed-up streetwear. Why did you want to apply this to the 2016 election?
"I wanted to make pro-Hillary gear that’s somewhat irreverent and not blandly political. With streetwear, it often feels like you’re part of a club that’s based on similar interests. Kids might not be able to afford $600 sneakers, but they can afford to line up at 4 a.m. and wait on line for a $40 T-shirt from their favorite rapper or skate brand. I wanted to re-create that feeling, but surrounding Hillary. The people who vibe off merch from I Feel Like Hillz will inherently 'get' each other in the same way that they 'get' Hillary Clinton.

"Also, one might argue that political merch is the OG streetwear — people were wearing I Like Ike pins long before brands were slapping their names on hoodies. Streetwear is inherently populist, and what is (hopefully) more populist than a political movement?"

How long has this been in the works?
"I first had the idea back in May or June, and immediately locked down the domain name and social handles. I sat on the idea for a few months and didn’t really do anything with it until August. After the DNC, my boyfriend, Brandon Litman, who's also the producer of the project, and I met with the We’ve Got Your BackPAC. They have an initiative called Creatives for Humanity, supporting projects to help elect Hillary. They gave us a bit of seed money, and that’s when things started moving. We spent a month or so getting the website up, designing, and securing inventory, and we went live on Monday."
Photo: Courtesy of I Feel Like Hillz.

Why do you think it's important to have such on-trend, cool Hillary gear available?
"I think there are a lot of young people out there who support Hillary or would vote for her, but her campaign doesn’t feel accessible, or they can’t relate to the political process as a whole. The 'It’s not for me' vibe, I think, may be strong in minority communities in particular. They don’t see a way in. So with these pop-culture references and on-trend stuff, we’re trying to make Hillary more accessible to young people, even those who can’t vote yet, and other groups that want to engage but don’t feel there’s a place for them.

"Also, Hillary is not Obama, who’s almost painfully cool, or even Tim Kaine, who’s dorky 'dad' cool. When Hillary tries to be on-trend, she comes off as pandering. But us, we’re totally genuine: We think Hillary is rad, and we want to communicate that in a way that’s relevant for young people. We want to #MakeHillaryCoolAgain. Just kidding."
Photo: Courtesy of I Feel Like Hillz.

How did you choose the specific phrases? What's significant about these phrases?
"I wanted to celebrate examples of the strong-willed, take-no-bullshit Hillary so many women in my generation admire. The times she’s been vilified in the press are, to me, some great 'rise up with fists' moments for feminism, and we’re thankfully seeing more analysis of that now than we did 24 years ago. I hope that by putting the cookies and teas statement in this context, it will become part of Hillary lore; one of the 'rumors' people have heard about her that is 'true and legendary,' from when Hillz was younger, less cautious, and totally awesome. I also like the idea of reinventing something that got so many conservatives all riled up in 1992.

"The I Believe In Science shirt [shown above] is a personal favorite because it so plainly (and humorously) states a huge difference between the candidates. Global warming should be more important to young people than any other issue, and that statement was a highlight of Hillary’s DNC speech for me. 'Probably my worst quality is that I get very passionate about what I think is right,' and 'If I want to knock a story off the front page, I just change my hairstyle,' were also in the running."
Photo: Courtesy of I Feel Like Hillz.
How did you make sure it was kosher to use a Pablo-esque Gothic font, without getting sued by Kanye's camp?
"There are online forums where people talk fonts, and when you google 'Kanye Pablo font' there are several that pop up. The typeface is called Nemek Gothic, and I bought it directly from the designer, Tom Grunwald. It’s not exactly the same as the Pablo font, but it’s close enough. I then asked an intellectual property lawyer-friend if Kanye would have any claim to the specific placement of the letters. She said the design isn’t unique enough. A couple of our advisers also reached out to Kanye’s team, and from what we’ve been told, Kanye’s team wasn’t upset about it."
Photo: Courtesy of I Feel Like Hillz.

What's your strategy for rolling out the message and the merch?
"The message has gotten out pretty organically so far. Our producer, Brandon, created the stencils and spray-painted a few of them around Williamsburg a couple weeks ago, before the site was live. He originally just did it for fun, but then noticed people posting the images on Instagram, so we started engaging, asking people to tag us and use the hashtag. We’ve done a bit of wheatpasting, as well.

"We’ve also set up a couple paint-your-own stencil stations in high-traffic areas in the city, where we encourage passersby to paint a free poster. Everybody loves that, and we’re hoping to replicate it across the country, specifically in swing states, with our college outreach program. We want to engage with college Democrats to bring similar stenciling events to their campuses and get people excited about Hillz. We’re publishing ongoing stories about how people 'feel like Hillz,' as well. And then, influencers! Of course, influencers. Audrey Gelman found our site through Instagram and just posted her shirt, so that kind of thing is super exciting to see, especially since we only launched on Monday."

Refinery29 has partnered with more than 50 of the country's biggest women's media brands and political nonprofit Rock The Vote to register 100,000 women to vote. Become a voter today by signing up with #OurVoteCounts below.

More from Fashion