Voting is fashionable.

Rod Hagwood
Get your vote on
Published October 14, 2004
South Florida Sun-Sentinel 

Seriously, the campaign to make the election process "hot" has been in full swing for months.

Everyone from jewelers to stylists are casting for votes ... and sales. Take Aaron Basha, for example. The New York-based jewelry designer to Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Celine Dion and Peter Jackson now has 18 karat gold diamond French enamel elephant and donkey charms handmade in Italy for sale (; 212-935-1960). That "vote" will set you back $1,800 for charms and $4,200 for cufflinks.

"During an election year, the country can become very serious," Basha said. "This is a great way for people to have fun, be self-expressed and celebrate the freedom that we have in this country to choose and vote." 

And this election is dog-eat-dog. Now pups can proclaim their political views, too. Texas-based Big Paw Designs, an online store for pet couture, has political pet pieces for hip dogs and cool cats.Pewter collar charms that read "All American Dog" or "Paws For Peace" are available for $10. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, more than 64 million U.S. households own a pet and more than 60 percent of animal owners have purchased a gift for their pet this election year. That's a lot of potential votes. Why do you think White House occupants arrange photo ops with pets? They even pardon turkeys on Thanksgiving, for cryin' out loud.

Sean John designer Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has been relentless with his get-out-the-vote campaign at, with T-shirts adorned with the pithy "Vote or Die" slogan. Remember Combs' appearance in Miami at the MTV Video Music Awards? Well, remember the equally surreal showings at the Democratic and Republican conventions? He's certainly been visible. And so have the T-shirts, having been seen on echo boomer heroes such as Ashlee Simpson, Ben Affleck, Naomi Campbell, Mya, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent and Paris Hilton. By the way, the baby doll models have sold out and there's a waiting list online. You can blame Paris for that.

P. Diddy said in a press conference in July that Citizen Change is a national, non-partisan organization created to educate, motivate and empower the more than 42 million Americans ages 18 to 30 who are eligible to vote on Nov. 2. That's the same demographic that Russell Simmons, another fashion mogul with Phat Farm, is targeting with his Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. His group organized 24 summits (free concerts with registration cards passed out) in cities across the country. According to The Economist, Simmons registered more than 1 million voters this summer.

Why? Because in the 2000 election, only 34 percent of all blacks and 33 percent of whites (including Hispanic whites) ages 18 to 24 voted, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Who do you think wears Sean John and Phat Farm?

Locally, getting out the vote is an opportunity to strut some style. South Florida designer NiFlame -- that's the name folks, deal with it -- presented her NiFlame Flawless Fashion collection at Cafe Iguana at Beach Place on Fort Lauderdale's beach last month to inspire young people to register to vote, with both Rock the Vote and The Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office on hand with ballot info and voting locations.

"The last election I had just moved back in the state and I didn't register to vote in time," the Jamaican designer said. "I didn't want anyone else to make the same mistake and I decided to do something about it."

She is not alone in these tough times. Of course, when the going gets tough, the tough go ... shopping.

Registered glamazon Michelle Surtain is also a recent registered voter. The wife of Miami Dolphin Patrick Surtain was all ready to exercise her inviolable right when she caught wind of some disturbing statistics.

The black-belt shopper learned her peer group was least likely to vote: Two out of three young women do not vote. She knew she had to act.

She and her event planner friend, Dana Hill, promptly decided to throw a party. Hence the Red, White and Blue Shopping Party, a nonpartisan grass-roots grab-fest benefiting the Patrick Surtain Foundation, will be held Oct. 29 at the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables.

"The foundation's mission is to raise awareness to the issues that face children in their developmental years. It supports the Center for Kids First in Sports Health and Education, one of the few organizations using comprehensive school-based intervention strategies to combat obesity and chronic disease," said Surtain. "Patrick chose this cause because he wanted to use his platform as a professional athlete to raise awareness to an issue near and dear to his heart."

Even though the event is free, there will be a Red, White & Blue Designer Clothing Auction (with apparel donated from Merrick Park boutiques) that evening with proceeds benefiting the cause. The cocktail social begins at 6 p.m. with an after-party ($20 cover charge) at Mundo New World Cafe from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.

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