THE BLOG

The First Lady's Dress

02/07/2011 09:30 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

"Women, wear what you love. That's all you can say. That's my motto.

It's nice to have on a nice suit. But it's nicer to change a

generation, in terms of their health. It's a better use of my time to

focus on rallying this country around our military families. I mean,

there's so much that I hope to do in this role, that makes a

difference in people's lives."

-Michelle Obama

For more on this issue, read this.

Five years of raising awareness for New York's Garment Center have

been rendered irrelevant by one statement. What Michelle Obama

chooses to wear can save and create American jobs. Her influence on

the American fashion industry does not detract from her agenda in the

East Wing. The First Lady can support her causes and simultaneously

support a valuable American industry and the thousands of people it

employs. I wish she would rethink her statement.

As First Lady, Michelle Obama is the second most visible

representative of the American people. She has done so much for

American fashion already. The prime example is what she did by

wearing Jason Wu to the Inauguration. With one simple choice, Michelle

Obama catapulted the career of a young American designer and generated

demand, business, awareness, and jobs for an American company. This

decision put Jason Wu on the map.

I admire Michelle Obama's compassion and respect her work, and would

like to see her continue wearing domestic brands on the international

stage. Wearing that nice suit she mentioned can make a world of

difference in people's lives. She can embrace her role as a fashion

icon and use it to help an industry that is in danger of leaving our

shores permanently.

Like all businesses in America, fashion needs support from its

leadership. It's important for Americans to buy American-made

products, and we look to our First Lady and the President to set that

standard. When she wears an American designer to a high profile

international event she communicates to the world that the American

fashion industry is significant and relevant. That makes a

difference.