As the coronavirus pandemic has taken hold of the U.S. over the last week, designers have been outspoken about the challenges facing the fashion industry in this crisis. Citing impending cash flow issues for brands up and down the price spectrum Prabal Gurung told Vogue that “this situation will not be fixed by a sale.” Brandon Maxwell, for his part, said “my main focus through all of this is going to be my team and keeping everyone employed, number one, and making sure everyone is feeling healthy, mentally and physically.” Retailers, too, have been forthright about the struggles posed by “stay-at-home” and “shelter in place” regulations. “The supply chain is severely affected by this. I can only imagine, in the coming months, how it will affect things for next season… There is no question that it will be a challenging year ahead of us,” said Andrew Dryden, the co-founder of LA’s menswear mecca Departamento.
Today, the CFDA and 90 business groups including the National Retail Federation, the Accessories Council, and the Fashion Footwear Association of New York brought their concerns to the White House, sending a letter to President Trump calling for economic stabilization efforts amidst the coronavirus pandemic. The letter begins by commending the Administration and Congress for their public health efforts and actions to minimize the economic fallout caused by the spread of the virus. It goes on, however, to state: “The economic harm from social distancing and mandatory store closures is real. Layoffs and economic hardship will surely follow, particularly for smaller, specialty retailers and brands. The biggest single issue facing the industry right now is liquidity, and federal stimulus efforts must be swift and flexible enough to address the urgent need for access to credit to keep these businesses afloat.” The letter concludes by encouraging policymakers to develop proposals that support the retail workforce—at 52 million Americans, retail is the largest private sector employer—and to provide a “bridge” for retail businesses of all sizes to stay viable during the crisis.