Has the first fashion faux pas of the 2016 presidential campaign already been committed?
Based on an article recently published on the inside-the-beltway blog the Hill, the answer is yes -- and it involves Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and a particular pair of sunglasses the GOP candidate was selling via his website until earlier today.
According to the piece written by Molly K. Hooper and Alexandra Oliveira, $150 pairs of Ray-Ban Wayfarer shades imprinted with the "Rand" logo were among the Rand-branded merchandise available for purchase until earlier today when they were removed at the request of the sunglass brand's Italy-based parent company Luxottica.
The report quotes Luxottica's head of communications for North America Jane Lehman, who emailed the following statement: "We learned that the Rand Paul campaign had been selling Ray-Ban sunglasses imprinted with the 'Rand' logo without our consent … After a formal request from us, they promptly removed the product from their site and agreed to cease any further use of our trademarks."
While we haven't been able to independently verify the above, a quick check of Rand's site reveals that there is a "sunglasses" category in the merchandise mix and clicking on it brings up the message: "There are no products matching the selection." In addition, one of the prominent banner photos at the campaign's e-commerce page depicts him sporting a pair of sunglasses with the name "Ray-Ban" visible along the edge of the right lens (similar to the ones in the above photo). Accompanying the photo is text that reads: "Political fashion is boring. Rand fashion is cool. Make a statement. CALL IT COOL."
But if you're a supporter of the senator with a yen for the stylish spend, your options aren't totally foreclosed. While searching through the various offerings (which included black knit caps, "Don't Drone Me Bro" slogan T-shirts and something called a "Hillary hard drive") we ran across slogan- and logo-festooned vinyl decals designed specifically to trick out a pair of Beats Solo HD headphones. Donating $20 to the campaign gets you a set of three -- one each in red, white and blue.
Presumably so you can "pump up the Rand" -- the way all the cool kids are.