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Official Presidential Campaign Merchandise We Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead With

Candidate swag that’s almost as ugly as the debates.

by Claire Downs

We’re inching closer to the Nov. 8 election, which means that both presidential candidates have had plenty of time to build out their official online stores. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s official websites have multi-page online stores featuring T-shirts, signs, buttons, and some miscellany. Politics aside, there are some real fashion don’ts littering both of their online stores.

For Trump’s “collection,” his designers mostly take crass bootleg shirts commonly sold outside his rallies and class them up a bit, so the site can appear family-friendly. For Clinton’s prêt-à-porter, she asked seemingly every designer and quasi artist to think up trendy lewks that any millennial feminist can sport. Where Trump’s styles are Walmart-chic and border on normcore, Clinton’s designs are often too conceptual and suffer from abstract symbolism. Speaking purely from a fashion perspective, here are the looks condoned by the Clinton and Trump Campaigns that we wouldn’t be caught dead in.
 

The Trump hat is the most famous campaign swag of the last two years. In fact, The Intercept reported in August that Trump was spending more on these hats and other merch than paying his campaign staffers: “The Trump campaign paid more than $1.8 million to two vendors—California-based headwear-maker Cali-Fame and Louisiana’s Ace Specialties—for T-shirts, mugs, stickers, and the red hats (which the campaign spent over $400,000 on alone).” This less-than-great camo-and-orange number speaks—or perhaps screams, shouts, and rants—for itself.

 

If you want to appear “totally unhinged,” this enormous 3-inch diameter button is a great way to publicly deny how shitty you may be feeling. Not only does this wearable stoplight say “I’m FIIIIIINE!” in that hostile way people say “I’m fine,” but it also looks absolutely nothing like Hillary Clinton.
 


Remember Microsoft Clipart and WordArt? This shirt seems to be a total homage to graphic design of the late ’90s. As a bonus—for the ladies, and definitely not for the male gaze—it’s “form-fitting”! That means that every atom of my being can be snuggly stuffed into this normcore monstrosity before I tuck it straight into my high-waisted mom jeans.
 


Speaking of moms, this mom-joke-for-purchase will make your party guests unwillingly feign laughter. This swag—which should honestly be a free giveaway—wishes to paint an image of a fun, collegiate Clinton who drinks cans of Bud and crushes them with her skull. Instead, it has me wondering under what administration Clinton drank her last can of beer. I’m guessing Nixon.
 


“Lock her up!” is a familiar yelp heard at Trump rallies. It’s the catchphrase that’s spawned a ton of bootleg merch with an incarceration theme. Trump’s shirt, which was posted last week, is country-club-ified, and reminds me of a Maira Kalman illustration. Trump’s call to imprison Clinton at the second presidential debate was arguably one of his lowest, most embarrassing moments of the nationally-televised program. Strange that he had a shirt made to commemorate it, but then again, this whole election is strange.
 


The environmental conservationism and former-Berner buttons are fine. It’s the caricature of Hillary that’s...less than appealing. Support for the LGBTQ community is wonderful, and I understand the contour-line-drawing style of the portrait, but it looks like our future president has been stung by a bee or ate at a shellfish buffet when she knows very well that she’s allergic.



I’m all about state pride, but why is this Indiana for Trump shirt blue? Isn’t Trump hoping Indiana will be a red state? It’s very confusing. It also looks nothing like Indiana’s real license plate, or any real license plate. It vaguely looks like something that could be on a car. Also interesting: The states that Trump has chosen for shirts are mostly places that he is predicted to win. There’s no New York, California, or Illinois for Trump apparel anywhere to be found. Trump supporters in those states get no love???
 

This poster from Clinton’s 2008 campaign was dredged up for resale on her site this year. As many other bloggers have noted, it’s obviously styled after propaganda posters of Chairman Mao Tse-tung. I’m not a fan of quirk-ifying eras in history that was brutal, bloody, and traumatic for any group of people. Besides that, where would you hang such a portrait? It’s a lot for any mid-size apartment.
 


This one’s a thinker and the model’s expression pretty much sums up how we feel about this silhouetted statement. It doesn’t quite make sense. If you’re for Trump, fine, but know that analogies are not your strong suit. For starters, Trump isn’t known for being honest. He’s known for being loud, brash, and “speaking his mind” with little to no regard for facts. But let’s not start comparing him to other politicians. Trumpers love Trump precisely because he’s not a politician. From a strictly historical perspective, Hillary couldn’t have run against Lincoln, because women couldn’t vote at the time. Nobody likes a graphic tee that makes everyone else say, “Huh?”
 

OK, I said I would put politics aside, but let’s get real. I’m proud to be a woman. I also value my female friends. I believe in feminism. Even if I did support Trump—ever, but especially after many women alleged that he crossed the line from “locker room talk” and sexually assaulted them—I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing this shirt if I still wanted some semblance of support or friendship from other women for the rest of my life.


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Claire Downs is a writer and comedian based out of Los Angeles. She's written for Nickelodeon, VH1, Funny or Die, and Hello Giggles. You can follow her on Twitter @clairecdowns. She prefers Indica to Sativa, in case you're wondering.



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