David Chang’s Majordomo Los Angeles restaurant donated all of its profits last Friday to Planned Parenthood, RAICES Texas, Everytown and Sierra Club. The action came in response to Majordomo investor Stephen Ross’ splashy but controversial Southampton, Long Island fundraiser
Those same charities and the Serge Ibaka Foundation also will receive money from Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, confirmed in a Monday August 12 email. . It was unclear whether other Momofuku restaurants participated and how much was donated, writes the Los Angeles Times about the Chang action in response to the investor Stephen Ross-Trump reelection controversy. Ross is the chairman of RSE Ventures, a private investment firm that is one of the backers of Chang’s restaurant group.
On a side note, Milk Bar is a chain of dessert and bakery restaurants owned by founding chef Christina Tosi and the Manhattan-based Momofuku restaurant group, also associated with Karlie Kloss’ Kookies
In an expletive-laced podcast episode from last week, in which David Chang begged Ross to call off his fundraiser, the chef put his Trump cards on the table.
“I personally am a staunch opponent to President Trump and everything he stands for,” he said on “The Dave Chang Show.” “Anyone that normalizes gun violence, white supremacy, putting kids into cages, his general lack of decency and respect for anyone else. He is destroying our democratic norms.”
Chang said he understood that the business relationship “raises a lot of questions for the people who dine at our restaurants and supported us over the years.”
“I won’t sugarcoat the situation or pander to you with an explanation of the realities of restaurants and modern finances and the complexities of investing and all that,” Chang said. “As a person in general, I just always want to be on the right side of the moral fence.”
Momofuku was founded by Chang in 2004 with the opening of the noodle bar; the company has since grown to more than a dozen restaurants in New York, L.A., Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., as well as international locations. RSE Ventures became an investor in New York-based Momo Holdings three years ago, according to a regulatory filing.
Ross and his wife, jewelry designer Kara Ross, hosted Trump and donors at their home in Southampton, N.Y., on Friday; tickets cost up to $250,000 and the event, along with a second fundraiser that day, raised $12 million for the president’s reelection campaign. Ross is also the founder and chairman of the Related Cos., the parent company of Equinox and SoulCycle.
On his podcast, Chang addressed Ross directly, saying: “I respect and admire you as a businessman. You have been a champion of all the values of Momofuku. You’ve done a great deal for us as a company and I truly appreciate it.” But the fundraiser “contradicts what I hope to accomplish by taking your money in the first place.”
With roughly 3,000 people dining at his restaurants every day, Chang said his company must “realize that talk is cheap: We must show it in action.”
Chang’s anti Stephen Ross supports Donald Trump action coincides with other potentially-damaging responses among New York’s progressive community. Select individuals in the fashion industry are also pushing back against Stephen Ross’ investments associated with The Related Companies.
Fashion Industry Backlash
ELLE magazine wrote on Monday that “upon learning that Ross and Related were behind New York City's Hudson Yards, a new $25 billion project where many fashion shows are rumored to be taking place this upcoming New York Fashion Week season, the notoriously liberal fashion industry got involved.”
The Vessel at Hudson Yards, houses The Shed, an innovative arts space that opened earlier this year. The space emerged as one of the upcoming NYFW’s September 2019 premiere venues for shows. Fashionista reported that about 10 labels, including Rag & Bone, are scheduled to show there.
Hudson Yards is represented by powerhouse fashion PR firm KCD, which produces seasonal runway shows for Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Prabal Gurung, Brandon Maxwell and more.
Prabel Gurung was among the KCD clients looking at The Shed for his upcoming show, but he cancelled upon hearing news of primary owner and developer Stephen Ross’ Trump support. He is joined by KCD’s other clients — and we give special note to Tory Burch.
In a series of tweets designer Prabal Gurung wrote: “7/10: My goal here is to start a dialogue and maybe, hopefully, change some minds. I was previously in conversation with Hudson Yards’ The Vessel as the venue for my brand’s upcoming 10 year show during NYFW. When I heard about this fundraiser, I chose to pull my participation.”
Stephen Ross’ wife is jewelry designer Kara Ross, who reportedly had a hand in the planning of this event, and who currently holds a seat on the board of the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers America)
On Sunday, jewelry company Fallon withdrew its membership from powerful industry organization the Council of Fashion Designers of America because Ross’ wife, Kara Ross, sits on its board.
The company founded in 2010 by jewelry designer Dana Lorenz — a 2010 CFDA Award nominee for her label, Fallon —released a statement saying that after “many years of participation,” it would “no longer participate if a woman that funds the current [White House] administration sits on the board.”
Lorenz pointedly wrote: “Yesterday, while Mrs. Ross was putting finishing touches on her Trump fundraiser, I was making sure my sobbing housekeeper had her entire family’s documents in order, a woman with 3 years citizenship living in fear. It is not enough to post rainbows on your Instagram feed. Do something.”
The Fallon CEO concluded: "I will no longer be a part of what seems to be allowing a pay for play, money over merit arrangement with someone that clearly wants to advance an agenda that is hurting many businesses large and small with this trade war,” before adding: “"I do not feel her (Kara Ross’) views speak for me as a member and I will not allow her to make decisions on my behalf."
Lorenz told WWD that she had been in contact with multiple designers who are considering similar action but she declined to name names. She did, however, reveal that she had gotten multiple threats from Trump supporters since her letter has been made public.
“I wasn’t looking for any kind of response, I just wanted to remove myself,” she told WWD. "I wish more people would stop worrying if they are on some sort of guest list or red carpet when it comes to doing what’s right. I think it’s time for everyone to draw a line in the sand. I don’t think you can vote for a tax rate but not also racism and the denial of climate change. I’m not going to look back in time at this moment in history and see myself as a coward."
Fallout against Stephen Ross is mounting in the fashion industry at a time when fashion heavyweights are focused on a bit of summer leisure but also the upcoming NYFW. Real Estate news site The Real Deal takes an updated look at Stephen Ross’ investments in 30+ companies.