Stephen M. Ross, a board member of the Shed and the real-estate tycoon behind the $25 billion Hudson Yards development project on Manhattan’s West Side, came under fire last month after it was revealed that he planned to host a fundraiser for President Donald Trump in his Southampton residence. Since then, social media has been brimming with calls to boycott Ross’s associated businesses, including Equinox Fitness, SoulCycle, and Blink Fitness. In the most recent development in the backlash against Ross, several fashion brands that were slated to present their shows at the Shed for New York Fashion Week, opening September 6, have canceled their participation in protest over Ross’s association with the president of the United States. Boycotters include elite fashion houses like Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Rag & Bone, and the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, according to the New York Post.
The first to make public his withdrawal from the Shed was the fashion designer Prabal Gurung, who announced his decision in a Twitter post on August 7. “I was previously in conversation with Hudson Yards’ The Vessel as the venue for my brand’s upcoming 10 year show during NYFW,” Gurung wrote on August 7 after news about Ross’s fundraiser for Trump broke. “When I heard about this fundraiser, I chose to pull my participation.”
A Hudson Yards source told the New York Post that the Vessel had originally rejected Gurung before he announced his withdrawal. “Prabal approached us through a third party and was told that Vessel was not available to him,” the source told the Post. Gurung has not responded to the Post‘s request for comment, but he wrote on Twitter, “Removing our brand and selves from this is my choice and that is my decision.”
Rag & Bone withdrew soon after, according to Women’s Wear Daily‘s report on August 13. “Pretty much all of the events have been canceled at the Shed,” an employee at Rag & Bone told the New York Post. “We don’t know if there are going to be any fashion events here. I think a lot of the designers didn’t support Stephen Ross being on the board here,” the employee added.
7/10: My goal here is to start a dialogue and maybe, hopefully, change some minds.
I was previously in conversation with Hudson Yards’ The Vessel as the venue for my brand’s upcoming 10 year show during NYFW. When I heard about this fundraiser, I chose to pull my participation.
— Prabal Gurung (@prabalgurung) August 7, 2019
The fallout continued as Michael Kors and Vera Wang announced their withdrawals from the shows hosted at the Shed. The New York Post quoted New York’s fashion week creator, Fern Mallis, who deemed the Shed “kind of over.” According to the Post, Mallis told their reporter, “If you know people showing at The Shed, please tell me because I don’t know who is.”
Last month, DJ Thanushka Yakupitiyage’s and the dancer Elsz, turned their performance at the Shed into a protest, calling attention to the Trump fundraiser and to immigrant rights issues. The two artists, who performed while donning “Decolonize This Place” t-shirts, interjected their musical performance with recordings of migrants recounting their difficult experiences, mixed with soundbites from Trump and Ross.
Earlier in August, the artist duo Zackary Drucker + A.L. Steiner announced their withdrawal from the Shed’s Open Call program, also citing their discomfort with Ross’s association with the president.
The Shed has not yet responded to Hyperallergic’s request for comment.
As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever.
Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.