Last week, 90 groups representing retailers sent a letter to the White House pleading for an injection of cash into their industry. The letter echoed what we’ve heard from independent brands and retailers alike since the coronavirus began spreading rapidly in the U.S.: Without financial aid, many of our favorite people and places to shop from might be forced to go out of business because of the pandemic. The toll, they wrote, will be felt not just by bold-faced names but by every sales associate, seamstress, and manufacturer involved with the making and selling of clothes. There are 52 million jobs involved in making the retail industry hum, according to The New York Times. The designer Tory Burch, who spearheaded the letter campaign, put the stakes plainly to the paper: “[Without aid] our industry will fail.”
On Tuesday, the fashion industry stepped into the breach. The CFDA, the trade organization that represents America’s fashion designers, and Vogue announced a fundraising initiative called “A Common Thread.” The project will work to raise funds through a video series spotlighting those in the fashion industry who are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. “The videos will highlight not only designers, but those who work tirelessly behind the scenes in the country’s incredibly strong and vibrant fashion industry,” according to a press release. The series will launch today, March 25.
A Common Thread will also retool this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, which has celebrated new designers since it was established in 2003, to help designers recover from the economic fallout. (The award was originally instituted in the aftermath of 9/11, when many young designers were struggling to find a foothold in the industry.) Repurposing the award will also allow the fund to start with an already sizable base of money to distribute: A total of $700,000 was handed out to last year’s winner and two runner-ups.
Businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to apply for grants through the CFDA starting April 8. The rest of the details—like how recipients will be decided, who will make up the board making those decisions, and how much will ultimately be given—are still being sorted out. Finding a way to help the struggling fashion community is urgently needed. In addition to the CFDA and Vogue’s initiative, Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond announced he will donate $50,000 to minority- and women-owned small businesses.
Those interested in donating to A Common Thread can text THREAD to 44-321 or do it online here.