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Beyond Politics, Food and Fashion at the Presidential Inauguration

Bernice Napach
Daily Ticker

Jacqueline Kennedy had Oleg Cassini, Nancy Reagan James Galanos—fashion designers that dressed them for the presidential inauguration and throughout their time in the White House. Michelle Obama also wears designer clothes but she’s probably best known for popularizing the J. Crew label, wearing its sweaters and skirts and, most notably, its moss green leather gloves to accompany the lemongrass yellow outfit she wore at President Obama’s first inauguration.

No one knows yet what Michelle Obama will wear at the second inauguration but many will be watching, not only for its fashion statement but also for its potential business impact.

Michelle Obama is “probably the greatest rainmaker in the history of fashion,” says Bloomberg BusinessWeek reporter Ira Boudway. He tells The Daily Ticker that the J. Crew web site crashed from the extra traffic that followed after shoppers saw the green leather gloves Michelle Obama wore at the inauguration. J. Crew stock surged 25% the week after the event. (The company is now privately held.)

NYU Finance Professor David Yermack has calculated that the first lady's public appearances has added $5 billion to the stock price of various publicly traded clothing companies.

“People will be paying attention” to what the Obamas wear at the inauguration,” says Boudway, including whether it was made in America.

Allen Edmonds is one of the few shoe companies still operating in the U.S. and it has provided shoes for every inauguration since at least Ronald Reagan's. Boudway says the Wisconsin-based company doesn’t think President Obama wore its shoes at his first inauguration and no word yet if he'll wear them this time around.

“The president tries to stay out of even the appearance of an endorsement,” says Boudway.

That’s not the case with New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He’s chairman of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies which overseas the inaugural luncheon and he’s stacking the luncheon with many New York-made products, including cheese from the Cooperstown Cheese Company, in Milford, New York; Seaway Trail Honey from Rochester and several wines from the Finger Lakes Region.

Businesses will play another role in the inauguration besides product placement. Along with individuals, companies for the first time will help finance President Obama's inauguration activities. He hopes to raise $50 million altogether. Among the corporate donors listed on Presidential Inauguration Committee 2013 web site are AT&T (T), Microsoft (MSFT) and Southern Company (SO).

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