Less than two months from Election Day, H&M is partnering with artists around the country to stress the importance of voting. Launching on National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 22), the endeavor includes work from Chicago designer Sheila Rashid, whose streetwear has been donned by other local celebrities like Chance the Rapper and Lena Waithe. Rashid is one of seven creatives making original, bipartisan artwork for H&M’s Blanks collection, a minimalist streetwear essentials line of T-shirts, hoodies and joggers that are meant to be redesigned.
Rashid joins the likes of New York’s Baron Von Fancy and Sophia Chang; Joshua Vides of Los Angeles, Gunner Stahl of Atlanta, Greg Mike of Florida, and Trevonne Deveaux, an H&M sales associate from Boston.
According to H&M USA, the H&M Votes x Blanks artist collaboration is a platform the retailer wanted to provide for a diverse group of artists to use their voice, through original designs, to support democracy at its most important moment encouraging customers and staff to exercise their First Amendment right and register to vote. The clothing underlines the importance of “using your voice” for change, something that Little Village resident Rashid supports.
“The focus — encouraging people to vote in general, that’s a good, positive thing to push and I’ve never really done anything with politics or pushing people to vote,” she said. “I just felt it was a great idea and a great opportunity to be a part of.”
The campaign put H&M in partnership with I AM A VOTER and the American Civil Liberties Union to give customers the ability to check their registration status or sign up to vote. Customers just have to text HMVOTES to 26797. To make sure people understand their rights as a voter and have access to vote by mail in their respective state, HM.com will continue to provide education around voting rights, access and history.
“H&M has collaborated with many artists and designers over the years to offer unique pieces at an affordable price for all,” said an H&M spokesperson. “This collaboration is a continuation of H&M’s previous partnerships with artists. ... We are extremely proud of this collection and are always looking to highlight new and diverse creators, to help to make their art accessible and affordable to all those who love both fashion and art.”
Rashid says this year’s election is an important one.
“We’re elevating as people, and mentally we’re all transcending and going through this together,” she said about the pandemic and current social climate. “It’s different now. It’s more focused on how we can shape the future — these things kind of matter if we want to live in society.”
Rashid says she’s been making clothes every day during the pandemic, using this time to go inside herself and appreciate what she has. She said her work for H&M reflects her signature aesthetic and she wanted to keep it on-brand with that.
“I’m used to doing graphics with my own brand so I wanted to keep that same aesthetic. I like bold letters, big letters,” she said. “I always knew that was going to catch people’s eye and for it to be something that is going to be aesthetically nice to look at, that was my whole inspiration, to make a nice graphic like something high end but streetwear — that’s my whole thing."
The retailer reached out to her through Instagram to be a part of this collaboration, one of several she’s done during her career, including with Nissan in 2019 and the Jordan brand earlier this year when she was part of the Jordan Chicago Collaborator’s Collection, a streetwear collection centered on the city’s CTA lines for NBA All-Star Weekend.
The voting collection will be online and in select H&M stores until the collection sells out, according to H&M. The hoodie is $39.99, long sleeve shirt and short sleeve t-shirt are $17.99. Rashid’s work will be at the H&M at 840 N. Michigan Ave.
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