From Michelle Obama in Sergio Hudson raspberry to Jennifer Lopez head-to-toe in white Chanel, it was hard to pinpoint which style icon shined brightest on Inauguration Day 2021. That is, until the snapshot of Bernie Sanders and his woven mittens took the world by storm.
A photo of Sanders at the inaugural ceremony became an instant meme sensation. In the snapshot, the seated, socially distanced and utterly matter-of-fact Vermont senator is sporting a gray winter coat by Burton, brown mittens handmade by Vermont second-grade teacher Jen Ellis and a blue disposable mask.
While the politician forwent designer labels for the historic day, Sanders’ style and mood dominated Twitter and Instagram in the days following Wednesday’s inauguration.
By the weekend, the Sanders meme was still going strong. His now-iconic image has been transposed onto an array of other iconic images; the most popular scenes in which he was placed included Forrest Gump and Ghost, as well as the canvas of a Bob Ross painting. Bernie even made his way into a UFC octagon.
Now Sanders is taking the comedic relief we all desperately needed and turning it into a force for good.
He and his team have launched the “Chairman Sanders Collection,” a line of meme-inspired T-shirts and crew neck sweatshirts available on the Bernie Campaign Store of his official site.
When he announced the fashion drop on his Instagram account Sunday evening, hundreds of comments were already inquiring about when his team will restock the crew neck sweaters, or whether they have plans to expand the line with a meme hoodie. “Bro, just drop the crew neck again,” wrote one Instagram follower. “We can’t wear tees out here [right now]. Trying to stay cozy like you.”
“Every day, I wish the sweatshirt would go back in stock,” wrote another.
Prices range from $27 to $45. As of publication, the unisex sweatshirts are sold out. The men’s and women’s tees are still available, but the website informs shoppers that due to high demand, it can take up to six weeks before they receive their purchase. The tops are 100% organic spun cotton and made in the U.S.
In an interview with CNN, Sanders said he expects the merchandise to raise a couple million dollars for charities in Vermont, including Meals on Wheels,Feeding Chittenden, Chill Foundation and Vermont community action centers.
While Sanders’ original apparel and other campaign merchandise usually come in classic blues, whites and other brighter hues, his meme tees and sweats are available in all black. Unlike the other vibrant designer ensembles that graced the stage on Inauguration Day, you can more effortlessly incorporate Sanders’ Inauguration Day look into your daily wardrobe. The cozy and practical cotton tops can be easily matched with loungewear or jeans, or worn under a structured blazer or over a flowy silk midi slip.
Both the staid hues and classic cuts of Bernie’s meme-inspired line also give the sought-after tops the opportunity to be more a fashion staple than a fashion statement piece, as they can easily be paired with neutrals, bolds, and patterns alike—and hopefully lead to less clashing this season and beyond.
By Tanya Klich, Forbes Staff
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