It’s no secret that your fashion choices can have a psychological effect on a lot of things, like your career or a Tinder date, and it turns out that includes political votes too. More specifically, it might be one of the reasons President Trump is in office.
At the annual Business of Fashion VOICES conference yesterday, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wiley revealed for the first time that Trump’s campaign used data on people’s fashion preferences in the 2016 US presidential election. Not scary at all.
He explained that CA used date from 87 million Facebook users, and targeted those who ‘liked’ certain brands with pro-Trump messaging. Those included lots of American heritage denim brands like Wrangler and LL Bean, rather than more European ones.
‘When SCL Group, this military contractor, became Cambridge Analytica after Steve Bannon and Alt-Right billionaires bought it and changed the research that we were doing, one of the first things that they realized was how powerful fashion is, and how powerful it is to understand how people engage with clothing,’ he said.
Cambridge Analytica then looked at the brands based on five key personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. For example, Wrangler fans were less open-mind and more traditional, therefore might be more receptive to pro-Trump propaganda.
Wiley said, ‘We used weaponized algorithms; we used weaponized cultural narratives to undermine people and undermine their perception of reality, and fashion played a big part in that.’
He also encouraged the fashion industry to use their influence for good, adding, ‘It is up to you if Trump or Brexit become the Crocs or the Chanel of our political age.’