We’re all glued to it: footage of immigrant children sobbing as they’re ripped from their parents, the horror of "tender age" shelters for babies and toddlers, and the feeling that America won’t recover from this. On Thursday, June 21, First Lady Melania Trump flew from DC to Texas to visit detained children, and chose to wear a $39 jacket by Spanish brand Zara emblazoned with the words, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?”
As the images of her jacket spread, the White House issued a statement: “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message.” Soon after, President Trump contradicted that position, alleging the slogan referred to the “Fake News.” Here in Portland, the team at Wildfang—the brand we just can’t stop writing about, with its measures to save abortion clinics and encourage men to take a stand against sexism—knows fashion is about making statements. And this one didn’t fly.
“Our team watched the news unfold this week and has been devastated,” says CEO Emma Mcilroy. “Beyond politics, it’s been heartbreaking to watch families torn apart. And then we all saw Melania’s jacket. It pushed the team over the edge. We realized we make a great jacket and could turn this into something positive and make an impact.”
The team decided to jump on it. By 6:30 p.m. the same evening, Wildfang had put its military-style jacket, now emblazoned with “I Really Do Care, Don’t U?,” online, with the commitment to donate 100 percent of profits to Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services.
Within an hour, all 100 jackets had sold. Staffers pulled everything off the floor from both Wildfang's downtown and SE Grand Avenue locations, to be printed later with the message, but those pieces sold as fast as they could pull them. Then they turned to the rest of their stock, seeing what else they could print as the message went viral. In less than 24 hours, the brand has managed to raise almost $100,000 for RAICES, which is on the ground providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees.
“We’ve probably had 2,000 people email us today wanting these piece," Mcilroy says, in a hurried phone call between handling interview requests from Telemundo, CNN, People, Vanity Fair, and more. "This is going to be a bigger day for us than Black Friday. I have to believe [Melania Trump's jacket] was a mistake, but even as a mistake it was horrible, ignorant, and offensive. The fact that she hasn’t issued an apology is pathetic. So to see this spark of positivity, inspiration, and hope come from this? I think it was something we all needed this week, and I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve done. I want to raise one million dollars for them.”
On top of raising funds for RAICES, Wildfang has one more goal, Mcilroy says. “I want to see Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama wear our 'I Really Care' jacket. All the first ladies together, sending this message out to the world.”