The revelation of the retail crisis caused by the coronavirus and the global response coincided with the closing of the first round of demands for A Common Thread, America's fashion self-rescue plan. The initiative was created less than a month ago to help the designers, stores and independent entrepreneurs who make up the fashion ecosystem.
Can the Fashion Designers Council of America and Vogue succeed where the Small Business Administration has stumbled?
During the 10-day application period that began on April 8, more than 800 businesses and individuals from 38 states applied for a tranche of what is currently a $ 4.1 million fund, raised from supporters of industry and individuals, with grants targeted at businesses with revenues of less than $ 10 million and less than 30 employees.
No grant will exceed $ 100,000.
"We are not claiming this is a bailout," said Anna Wintour, artistic director of Condé Nast and editor-in-chief of Vogue. “We see this as a grant that will bridge a very difficult time, something to keep the lights on. The goal is to give a little money to as many people as possible. "
The money could help designers pay the factories that produce their samples and the fabric suppliers; help stores pay designers for stock ordered and produced; and help factories pay their tailors.
He stopped and then added, "It was really hard to see some of the names."
(Mr. Kolb declined to provide the names out of respect for their privacy, but, he said, "You can check the New York Fashion Week schedule.")
According to the CFDA, about 71% of applicants were brands or designers, 13% independent retailers, 7% small factories, and 8% associated businesses like production and PR companies that help support the industry.
After a first review by the CFDA to eliminate incomplete applications and ineligible names, a committee of 10 people, including Wen Zhou, general manager of 3.1 Phillip Lim; Rachna Shah, partner at KCD; and Jeffery Fowler, President, Americas at Farfetch, will read the applications and decide on the grants. The committee hopes to have the first funds by mid-late May.
A common thread is just one of the initiatives of the fashion world in the main style capitals. In London, the British Fashion Council's BFC Foundation Fashion Fund for the Covid Crisis is seeking to disburse £ 1million to independent designers and students, in grants of no more than £ 50,000. In Milan, Camera della Moda is raising funds to support independent talent through a campaign called #TogetherForTomorrow, which also connects young designers with experts in different fields.
In Paris, the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers - at 300,000 euros, the prize for the most lucrative emerging designer in the world and normally awarded to a single emerging designer - will be shared between the eight current finalists. A second fund, which includes the Karl Lagerfeld prize of 150,000 euros, will be available on request to help the winning designers of the last six years of the LVMH competition.
A common thread started as a reorientation of the fundraiser CFDA and Vogue initiated for their Fashion Fund award, and since then it has been augmented by donations: Ralph Lauren donated $ 1 million; PVH, the parent company of Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, donated $ 50,000; and hundreds of small donors, many of them anonymous, donated between $ 5 and $ 25.
“I was so moved and touched by the generosity,” said Ms. Wintour. “When Ralph called to tell me his contribution, I burst into tears. Bringing him in and helping us get started had been such a vote of support. And then there were hundreds of little donations, which broke your heart. There were former Fashion Fund attendees who returned their money from last year and didn't want their names mentioned. They just said, "We're in the same boat." "
Jonathan Cohen, a designer known for his cheerful prints and mindful upcycling, was a finalist for the CFDA / Vogue Fashion Fund in 2018. He applied for both a small business loan ($ 200,000) and the A Common Thread grant. of $ 100,000. .
“The difference on this app was to focus on how we were affected, as well as what we need to keep going,” he wrote in an email.
Mr. Cohen was in San Diego, where he moved to be with his family. This is the first time he has lived at the home since he was 19 (he is now 34) and the first time that he and his business partner, Sarah Leff, have been separated since starting their business in 2011.
"At that time we are paying all the expenses out of pocket," he wrote, adding that normally he would have store payments for spring-summer merchandise but most of that money was now on hold and not shouldn't happen for months (if any). “A common thread would be very useful for covering immediate expenses, as well as for planning the next six to eight months. For the S.B.A. it is very difficult to know when / how much money we will get. "
Mr Kolb said he expected to be able to award money to 10% of the candidates. Those who do not receive funds in the first round, which are reserved for those who need it most, will automatically be included in the next round. He expects most grants to vary between $ 25,000 and $ 75,000. (He estimates that $ 2 million will be disbursed.)
“We are not naive about this,” Ms. Wintour said. “We know we can't help everyone. And maybe some of the people we help will not be successful. But we wanted to show that there is a fashionable support system. That there is a future. "
Source: The New York Times