Galvanized by public outrage over Donald Trump's divisive U.S. presidential campaign, a Toronto clothier is launching a series of "Dump Trump" ties – with plans to donate all proceeds to charity, including one chosen by the family of a fallen Muslim-American soldier.
Andre Vassi, the owner and designer of Vassi Menswear, first conceived of the ties when Trump mocked a New York Times reporter last November for his physical disability.
"That was the tipping point," he said.
"I usually don't get involved in politics but this is not about politics when you see a presidential nominee making fun of a disabled person. To me, that is absolutely horrible."
Trump's recent attack on the family of Humayun Khan – who spoke out against the real estate tycoon at the recent Democratic National Convention –only further spurred him to act, Vassi said.
"Many Canadians, myself included, were deeply disappointed by Trump's comments and I think it's important to send the Khans a message that Canadians stand with them, regardless of personal politics.
"I had to create something. So that's what I did."
Vassi's first tie features a playful design of multi-coloured dump trucks on the front and a bold Dump Trump statement on text in the back, aimed at embracing the public's anti-Trump sentiments and to have "a little fun with the presidential process from north of the border."
More serious, though, is a second tie which features gold stars on the front, a purple heart in the lower left corner of the tie and the initials HK in honour of Humayun Khan.
All proceeds from Vassi's first Dump Trump tie will be donated to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to honour one of Vassi's family members who succumbed to his disease.
"That is for my cousin, who was more like a brother to me," Vassi said. "That has profound meaning for me."
Similarly, all profits from the sale of the Gold Star ties will also go to a charitable cause – an American anti-bullying charity of the Khans' choice, said Vassi, who is making attempts to get in touch with the family and would like to send them a tie keepsake to express his sympathy to them.
Vassi said Dump Trump ties were hand-made in Italy from 100 per cent silk and will retail for $100 a piece, with about $35 per sale going directly to charity.
While the Dump Trump tie has already been available for pre-sale at Vassi's brick-and-mortar Bay Street location as well as on his company's website, customers will be able to check out the ties in the store on Aug. 10.
So far about 80 per cent of the 350 Dump Trump ties have already been pre-ordered, and based on how well the remaining stock moves Vassi, may order another shipment.
As for the Gold Star tie, Vassi is actively working to have it produced and ready to move by late September. While he hasn't confirmed an order number, he anticipates ordering as many as 1,000 ties if he feels demand is there. "These types of ties have a short window of time, so it's not like I could keep them around two years from now," he said.
Because of the novelty of the ties, Vassi said few manufacturers are willing to produce such small quantities, so he sought out an Italian manufacturer who was able to turn around the first order of ties in about six weeks.
Now he's seeking out an American manufacturing partner willing to produce a small run of the Gold Star ties.
"I would love to find a quality American tie maker to produce this tie in honour of an American family and for an American anti-bullying charity. I'm not sure if I can, but that would be really wonderful."