American fashion designer Kenneth Cole recently launched a social issues web site, www.wheredoyoustand.com, a platform which encourages open debate on political hot topics like gun control, abortion, gay rights, and war. The topics, while very limited in scope, present an opportunity for focused dialogue in a socially savvy way. What I find most interesting and compelling about Cole’s new site is the way in which dialogue takes place on a given issue.
Users are immediately propelled into a whole new realm after clicking an issue. You are then prompted with a question, such as “Are Anti-War Protests Unpatriotic?” and are given the opportunity to answer a simple “yes” or “no” your response, though, comes in the form of a Facebook “Like” so it automatically links through to your page once you choose a side. This not only lets your audience know where you stand on a certain issue, but it also allows the Where Do You Stand audience more of an insight to your social graph. Comments left underneath the question prompt then immediately posts to the website as well as your own Facebook page and includes functionality to leave comments on complete stranger’s points of views. Questions about each issue are scheduled to change at the beginning of each month.
Not one to remove himself from the industry which launched him, Cole’s site also has video of fashionable and (apparently) politically savvy models protesting on behalf of one of the issues while wearing Kenneth Cole. This, then, creates a politically charged commercial of some sorts for Cole’s line. It seemed important for Cole, who is quite the activist himself (hence this site) to include the fashion aspect into it one way or another. Visitors of the site also have the option to shop Cole’s e-commerce site after giving their respective point of views on the issues at hand.
Cole visited the set of Morning Joe August 9th to promote his new venture and gave more details as to why his new site will sustain. He said, “Fashion comes and goes… What’s fashionable today may not be tomorrow. But if I can connect to you and talk to you about stuff that survives any given moment and I can talk to you on both levels. What you stand and what you stand for. Then I think I have a bigger place at the table. It’s just a privilege we built over time. We continue to look for ways to talk about issues that touch you and also aesthetics that inspire you.”
Regardless of Cole’s opinions on the issues presented on his site, it’s nice to see a platform that brings together two worlds which most people don’t necessarily correlate with one another: fashion and political activism, especially because it brings converse opinions together in a positive environment. Also worth noting is the open solicitation for bloggers to include their posts about the issues onto the website.
Never before has fashion been this politically innovative. My hat’s off to you, Kenneth!