On August 6, the Washington Post reported that Stephen Ross, the billionaire developer behind the luxury-fashion mecca Hudson Yards, would be holding a fund-raiser for President Trump’s reelection campaign. Tickets for the event, which took place last weekend at Ross’s home in the Hamptons, started at $100,000 for a photo opportunity and lunch, and went up to $250,000, according to the Washington Post. Included in the price of admission was the chance to meet Trump himself.
The outrage was swift and loud. Equinox and SoulCycle, two outwardly progressive companies (SoulCycle and Equinox have released statements insisting that their brands stand for diversity, inclusion, and equality) that Ross is an investor in, soon began trending on Twitter with hashtags #BoycottEquinox and #BoycottSoulCycle. Those supporting the boycott included celebrities Chrissy Teigen and Billy Eichner, who tweeted about canceling their Equinox memberships. Online, people began grappling with the fact that supporting companies they liked directly benefited someone whose beliefs misaligned with their own. In other words, people were confronted with the difficulty of ethical consumption under capitalism.
On August 7, Eater reported that Ross, through his investment company RSE Ventures, also has a stake in “Momofuku, Milk Bar, Bluestone Lane, SoulCycle, fast-casual chain &Pizza, and ‘for women, by women’ tampon start-up Lola.” Beyond this, he owns the Miami Dolphins NFL team, while Ross’s real estate development firm, Related Companies, is the developer of Hudson Yards, a new experiential luxury mall in New York City that debuted in March 2019.
In many ways, Hudson Yards could be the perfect venue for a New York Fashion Week runway show. The venue is intricately connected to luxury fashion (Chanel, Dior, and Fendi all have stores within the complex) and The Shed and the Vessel, two structures that are part of Hudson Yards, are infinitely Instagrammable. Yet despite the potential benefits of a show at Hudson Yards, brands have reportedly begun to pull their shows from the space in protest of Ross’s affiliation.
On August 7, Prabal Gurung expressed his outrage over Twitter, saying, “We are living in crisis mode. Our political and social climate is turbulent and dangerous. White supremacist and domestic terrorists are killing hundreds of people and instilling fear and terror in our daily lives.” He continued to say that he had been in talks with Hudson Yards about holding his 10-year anniversary runway show at the Vessel, but once Ross’s connection to Trump came to light, he chose to pull his participation.
WWD reported on August 13 that another brand has now pulled out of showing at Hudson Yards: Rag & Bone. “The brand was originally confirmed to host its show at The Shed at Hudson Yards, an arts center that is reportedly set to be the new home of New York Fashion Week,” writes WWD. “According to a source close to the brand, Rag & Bone is no longer presenting its Spring 2020 collection at The Shed, and its new location has not yet been confirmed,” they continued. Rag & Bone confirmed to Teen Vogue that they have no plans to show at The Shed as they are working with another venue. Teen Vogue has reached out to Prabal Gurung and will update if we receive a response.
Continuing to support brands such as SoulCycle or Milk Bar can be a complicated, personal decision — and there’s no wrong answer should you choose to take part in the boycott or not. If you dig deep enough into most brands, unsavory connections will most likely be found. But major fashion brands pulling out of Hudson Yards sends an important message about their brand values.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue