Ashley Biden made runway news last week at the launch of her hot new hoodie collection, “Livelihood.” Former Vice President Joe Biden and mom Jill showed their support by joining Ashley at New York Fashion Week kick-off event, where photographers and style magazines from all over the world angled for interviews and pictures.
Vice President Biden proudly told E! News, “I’m extremely proud of her. She’s been trying to change the world since she was three years old. I think she’s going to do it!”
Ashley’s new socially conscious weekend-wear apparel company is made in the USA, and a portion of profits will benefit two under-served communities where Ashley has roots — Riverside in Wilmington, Delaware, and the Anacostia neighborhood in Washington, DC, where Ashley once worked as a social worker. As the executive director of the Delaware Center for Justice, Ashley felt it was important that her business help advance social and economic justice in poorer communities.
Ashley is having a lot of fun with her new collection, and she hopes others are inspired by her business. TSD caught up with Ashley this week to find out more about her foray into fashion.
Town Square Delaware: How would you describe your style? Who are your influences?
Biden: I would describe my style as laid back, classic, with a little edge. My influences have been my mother, Aunt Valerie, Kate Moss, and Sarah Jessica Parker!
TSD: Please describe the Livelihood collection. How was your line received at New York Fashion Week?
Biden: The livelihood collection offers super cozy yet sleek pullover, zip-up, and oversized hoodies in blue, slate, black, winter white, pink, and emerald green. They are all made of organic cotton and are sourced are produced in the United States.
All hoodies have a gun metal zipper, which is like a piece of jewelry, and have a reflective tape on the left hand sleeve for hailing a cab and/or putting your fist up for the “power to the people” fist. The only branding on the hoodies is by the base of the hood that says “Keep your Hood Up + Livelihood” but only can be seen when the hood is up. I wanted to create a hoodie that was both cozy and sleek at a reasonable price point — $79.99 – $99.99.
The Launch event in NYC was fantastic, and the collection was received really well! I wasn’t aware of this, but hoodies have made a runway comeback. And so it couldn’t have been a better time.
TSD: If fashion expresses who you are, who most ideally would appreciate (and wear!) your designer hoodies?
Biden: Truly everyone! I choose the hoodie because 1) I love a good hoodie with great jeans, sleek tee, heels/boots, and great pair of earrings 2) Ubiquitous with the labor movement and current social justice movements. The hoodie is universal and can be worn by everyone. You see older men and women in hoodies, plus young kids. It is a timeless piece that can be worn by everyone.
TSD: Where are the hoodies manufactured?
I worked together with the Gilt merchant team to source each component of the garments from different zip codes across the country. We’re really proud that all of the different components of the garment were sourced and produced in the U.S.
- The hoodies are all made from a double-sheared, organic stretch cotton fleece fabric, which was sourced from AKAS in Pennsylvania
- The outside print and 3M reflectors were sourced from BCCO NYC
- The inside and care labels were sourced from Labeltex Mills in California
- The gunmetal zippers were sourced from UCAN Zippers USA in California
- The cord ties were sourced from Franklin Braid in Virginia
- The inner seam tape was sourced from Wayne Mills Co in Pennsylvania
- The dyer who worked with us to dye both the cord ties and the seam tape was Colortex, based in New York
- The garments were then manufactured by Waverly Grey in New York
TSD: Really great that you are turning this into an opportunity to help others. How exactly are you directing proceeds to residents in under-served communities? And please tell us about getinvolvedinyourhood.com.
Biden: Livelihood Inc. is an LLC, but we opened up a Livelihood Fund at the Delaware Community Foundation. All profits from the launch will go directly to the Fund, plus we will also be holding fundraisers and pursuing funding opportunities. If sales from initial launch go well, then we will continue with production and a portion of proceeds from the sale of future collections will go to the fund.
The two chosen zip codes in Riverside, Delaware, and Anacostia, Wash., DC, can use the funding as they see fit but must go towards economic development — education, workforce development, and job placement.
We will be organizing local advisory boards in each location consisting of residents who live in the zip codes selected. This will not include your typical board members. I would like there to be diversity and full representation of community demographics — a janitor, school teacher, re-intergrating individual, pastor, local business owner etc. And these advisory boards will select which projects are funded. I am hoping that local schools and community centers apply for the funding.
Ashley hopes to grow her casual apparel to eventually include blazers and other lines. And the goal of the non-profit arm of Livelihood is to grow the program so they can eventually accept applications from other communities across the country.