The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented time of financial stress and economic uncertainty for the fashion industry. Millions of people are losing their jobs, and retailers are struggling (as evidenced by J.Crew’s and Neiman Marcus’s bankruptcy filings). Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) first responded to the crisis in April by launching A Common Thread, a fundraising and storytelling initiative supporting those in the industry affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A Common Thread was founded with the mission to support small and medium U.S. fashion businesses with micro grants. With that as inspiration, Vogue, the CFDA, and Amazon have partnered on an online digital store front, Common Threads: Vogue x Amazon Fashion, to help connect designers directly with consumers. In addition to helping create the store, Amazon has also donated $500,000 to A Common Thread.
“I’m thrilled to announce this partnership, and want to thank Amazon Fashion, not only for its generous support of A Common Thread, but also for so quickly sharing its resources to aid American designers affected by the pandemic,” said Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, and U.S. artistic director and global content advisor, Condé Nast. “While there isn’t one simple fix for our industry, which has been hit so hard, I believe this is an important step in the right direction.”
Given the lockdown, there’s no foot traffic into department stores or individual boutiques. Online shopping is all the more important to brands. Not only is Common Threads another way for the participating designers to make sales, but also it introduces smaller American brands to Amazon’s massive customer base. Each designer who is included in the storefront will be able to set their own prices and choose their own edit of apparel and accessories, available for all Amazon customers to shop. Batsheva, Chloe Gosselin, Derek Lam 10 Crosby, Jonathan Cohen, Tabitha Simmons, Alejandra Alonso Rojas, and Victor Glemaud are among those featured. The digital storefront will launch with their spring collections (and some designers are offering archival pieces as well). The first wave goes live today on Amazon, but more designers will be added over the coming weeks and months. One label set to join in a few weeks is the ethical fashion label Lemlem. Lemlem’s CEO Eva Jean told Vogue, “I am confident that this new store will support our sustainable business model, our teams and our artisans.”
The primary goal of the store is to provide another avenue for designers to generate income during the pandemic. Derek Lam called the initiative a “lifeline which I am so grateful to have” in an email to Vogue. “Every sale in this capacity is going to help my business. Most importantly, it will help to preserve the jobs of the designers, artisans, technical teams, sales and marketing teams in my company.”
Similarly, Victor Glemaud said he “immediately said yes, without hesitation,” when he was approached about joining the storefront. He heard about it weeks ago, when sheltering in place orders were first being issued. At the time, Glemaud was at his “most uncertain, most adrift” and was unsure about how to keep his business going. “There’s no cash flow right now. I don’t know when that is going to change. When I heard about it, I thought, If it brings in something, okay let’s do it,” he said. “There’s also the visibility of it. It will introduce my brand to a lot of different people unfamiliar with it.”