These retail companies lend clothes to female political candidates
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- MMLaFleur announced a program offering free clothing loans to women running for office in 2020.
- After their campaign ends, MMLaFleur will donate the clothes to the non-profit organization Bottomless Closet, which provides resources to underprivileged women trying to enter the workforce.
- Universal Standard followed suit and offered to dress for free any woman of any gender or non-binary person running for public office. Universal Standard also offers sizes 00-40.
- After more than 1,000 candidates submitted their credentials, Mr. LaFleur closed his candidacy, but Universal Standard’s program continues throughout the election year.
Being a candidate for public office is demanding. It’s time consuming, exhausting and expensive. And, for female applicants, research shows that it may be necessary to overcome higher barriers than required for male applicants.
To offer its support, women’s workwear brand MMLaFleur has offered to loan its clothes for free to women running for public office from all political backgrounds – for everything from local seats to city council to the House of Representatives. Following their campaign, MM will donate the clothes to the non-profit organization Bottomless Closet, which provides resources to underprivileged working women to enter the workforce.
MMLaFleur announced the new Presidents Day program in a letter to clients as well as in an Instagram post.
In the letter, Founder and CEO Sarah LaFleur wrote, “We never claim that clothing helps move the needle on female representation, but we do want to do our part to make things a little easier. As one candidate put it, “Wearing your clothes has given me one less thing to fear and the ability to focus on getting my message across.”
LaFleur’s company sent an email the day after the 2016 presidential election asking for comment on how the company could better support its community. Within 48 hours, he had received 1,100 bipartite responses. Many of them called on MMLaFleur to support more female candidates (currently only 27% of all elected office in the United States is held by women). These responses led to this workwear loaner program and an upcoming partnership with She Should Run, a non-partisan organization dedicated to empowering women to run for office.
Since the announcement of MMLaFleur’s Ready to Run program, other companies have followed its example.
In this election year, Universal Standard – a women’s clothing brand known for its 00-40 range including size – will dress any woman of any gender or non-binary person running for public office for free.
On Twitter, Universal Standard Noted that anyone of any gender who shows up for public office and wishes to wear their clothes should reach out. “We want everyone to help everyone dress and feel their best.”
For either program, applicants may want to check their local campaign laws to ensure that the acceptance of the offer is considered correct by the fine print.
Both programs have received praise from women with experience in the public service. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has undergone public scrutiny for everything from her jackets to her Dresses, reprogrammed the news in her Instagram Stories, adding that accessing work clothes while running for office was a logistical and financial challenge: “As a candidate, a big part of asking people to vote for you helps them visualize you on jobs. As a member, this professionalism helps you challenge unconscious bias. “
2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also mentioned the two companies’ loan programs on Twitter, stressing that “affording professional clothing should not be an obstacle to a better representation of women in the public service”.
Unfortunately, as of March 3, MMLaFleur has closed its applications for new applicants after receiving over 1000 applications at firstname.lastname@example.org, but Universal Standard appears to be in the works. You can write to email@example.com for more information on how to participate.
Read More: 19 Places We Shop For Women’s Workwear – And The Best Styles To Shop For