The Shed in Hudson Yards, New York (photo by Zachary Small)

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.

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.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a Senior Editor at Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...

16 replies on “Top Fashion Brands Cancel Shows at the Shed Over Board Member’s Ties to Trump”

  1. Sounds like a knee jerk reaction, so fashionable these days! While I am not a Trumpite many of these ‘designers’ are attending events, supporting institutions and generally running in the same circles as the people they say they object to. It highlights the reasoning behind the reality that neo-liberalism is dead – its just being a conservative in favour of gay marriage, inclusivity, transgenderism etc … Time to be radical and honest.

    1. Yes, opposing people who support a criminal, treasonous, authoritarian, mentally unstable white supremacist is totally the same as being a criminal, treasonous, authoritarian, mentally unstable white supremacist.

      That totally makes sense!

      1. Your thesis is flawed (the man is an *ss, but I don’t think he’s a white supremacist), but brilliantly presented! Thank you!

  2. Seems like The Shed could be renamed The Outhouse.
    And I agree with one aspect of what the prior post said–about some of these designers participating in all kinds of other events funded/hosted by crap CEOs and their companies–but I still love that Ross is getting a cold shoulder from them.

          1. If you’re that privileged to be “bored” with it all, go out and do some good in the world to help. I’m bored by your worthless sarcasm.

          2. I often contemplate what it must feel like to always be angry and the emotional toll it must take to search for someone/thing to call out in the name of social justice. I often wonder, as well, what it means to push people away (or “cancel”); dividing them on the very subjects that need communal support. My (obviously) hyperbolic snip is just that. I will cancel myself here and end this thread. I wish you the best. -b. m.

          3. Maybe one day when you die and come back as a minority, you won’t have to contemplate or search too hard…you’ll know and at that time I’m sure you’ll be anything but “bored”. Most people aren’t looking to be angry, but there’s sure stuff that is worthy of being “called out”.

  3. Although I was cynical at first , these actions do have an effect. Kanders was forced to resign after artists threatened to withdraw from the Whitney Biennial. Brexit seems to be collapsing as we speak.Nan Goldin and her collaborators have effectively drawn attention to the Opioid Crisis. Hong Kong , Paris ! Protests demonstrations and boycotting are effective tools !

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