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Designer Christina Tung Is Addressing the PPE Shortage

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Hint: It’s not by doing it alone.

As of mid-March, designer of SVNR jewelry and founder of House Of Communications Christina Tung found herself working from her Brooklyn apartment, watching as New York City prepared for a battle very different from anything it had ever experienced. Like so many of us, she was racked by feelings of helplessness as she was pulled into the negative vortex that the news has become over the past few months. At that point, there was no clear path of how best to help.

After doing a little research herself on how to source PPE, Tung was inspired by others like Gelareh Mizrahi to join the larger movement. She knew of a few others working for the cause including Vogue editor Emily Farra, who was raising funds through her skin-care line Soft, and influencer Serena Goh who had started a campaign called the Mask Fund. Tung then called on anyone in her network raising funds to join forces.

 

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From there, Tung got involved with a larger organization called Last Mile, who had developed a baseline verification process to ensure that they were only sourcing PPE of the utmost quality, as counterfeits have become a huge problem. While working with a larger group, Tung realized that “part of the reason the prices are getting inflated was because of all these short-term buyers crowding the marketplace.” Fundraisers with the best of intentions placing a single order for PPE are creating competition without realizing it. “That additional demand is partially what causes the inflation of the price,” says Tung.

 

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As a designer and the founder of a PR company, Tung understands the value of press and what it can do for movements like this one. Last Mile has already set up extremely sophisticated databases to ensure that they are reaching every hospital in New York City, logging each and every delivery made and assessing those that are the most at risk. They have not, however, focused much time on spreading the word outside their own network, which is where Tung’s expertise came in handy.

In homage to the 7:00 PM cheers for NYC healthcare workers, Tung named her first creative initiative #7pmLetters. It asks people to mail in thank-you letters for frontline healthcare workers that Last Mile will include with their PPE shipments. “Now that we’re just moving so much more product, we wanted to figure out a more sustainable way to give that more human touch,” says Tung.

While at first glance it may seem odd that so many fashion-industry veterans (Tung, Farrah, Goh, Mizrahi) are lending their time and resources to a cause so far outside their realm, it is actually quite logical. They know how to run a multi-faceted small business, which means they are involved in the entire process from the ground up. The fashion aspect is especially pertinent, as it often combines a numbers game with creative communications.

Summing up numbers to quantify their success is a tricky business, as Last Mile, among many other organizations, often share resources and work in tandem to achieve the same desired results. However, “In less than five weeks, Last Mile has delivered upwards of 100,000 masks, 2,500 face shields, 500 goggles, and 660 surgical gloves,” details Tung. “The dispatch team of couriers have made 652 deliveries throughout the five boroughs.”

It’s no new finding that we are stronger together than we are apart, but it is one that is easy to brush off as a silly musing. As Tung says, “We all have different pieces of the puzzle.” As they accumulate more and more pieces, the puzzle gets much more complex, but the end result is astronomically more impressive.

 

Photos: Courtesy of Christina Tung

 

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Here’s Why You Have to Stop Working Out in Boardshorts Now

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Stop Working Out in Boardshorts

It’s the stank. Don’t do it. Photo: Victor Freitas


The Inertia

Dudes, sit down. We need to have a serious talk about men’s fashion. Specifically, the intersection between men’s boardshorts and workout attire. This intersection should not exist. These two fashions are one-way streets on opposite sides of Fashion City. At no point should they be meeting for a salty embrace under the bench press. Am I the fashion police here to tell you how to dress? No – most days I look like I walked out of a PacSun circa 2004, so I can’t really claim any fashion authority. But I can warn you that your trunks are more likely to make you the most rank guy at the gym.

Maintaining your fashion sense while sweating is an undeniable trend. If you look good while working out, the thinking goes, then you feel better about yourself and push yourself harder. As a result, guys seem to be drawn to the fun and creative patterns boardshorts offer as opposed to the traditional training shorts. For many, they have become a go-to short for non-aquatic athletic activities.

But, despite being designed for surfing, a physically demanding sport, boardies are not meant for traditional exercise. If you look on the care label of your favorite trunks, you will notice they are made of tons of polyester and a small amount of various stretchy materials (typically elastic, spandex, or whatever the stuff Felipe Toledo’s yoga instructor’s garb is made of). This combination is great for surfing since it gives you a lightweight and flexible short able to withstand all manners of ripping. These also seem like the exact traits you would want out of a workout short – so why look elsewhere?

Because boardshorts turn the lower half of your body into a Petri dish. Polyester famously does not breathe, so wearing it while you sweat invites a party wave of odorous compounds onto your nether regions. They also are not cut like a traditional training short, so there is less airflow moving through your undercarriage. This greatly increases your chances of people looking at you the same way they look at rotting shellfish.

Thanks to the particular body parts that are suffocating, the stench that someone in boardshorts can generate while working out is much worse than typical BO. You already know the aroma – an intoxicating blend of armpit and ass that forces crowded rooms to choke back vomit. Somehow, the originator of this smell usually does not seem to realize how disgusting he is and is unable to pick up on the social cues from everyone around him. If people around you always keep their distance and recoil in horror at your presence, then it’s a safe bet that you either reek or are part of the surf school flooding my local break.

Aside from being a social pariah, continuing to invite the Florida Everglades into your pants could lead to skin problems. Rashes, acne, and fungus may not smell bad, but they are going to look and feel super gnarly in the exact places you do not want to look and feel super gnarly. It would be difficult to explain to your Tinder date that your situation downstairs is a result of your dedication to the weight room and not an STD. Love is temporary, but herpes is forever.

Are all men that wear boardshorts to exercise stank dudes with STD-like symptoms? No. Boardshorts do not instantly transform you into the most offensive guy in the gym, but they do set you up to fail. Regardless of if you are a funk-prone person or not, it’s common courtesy to try your best to avoid being compared to a dead pile of seaweed. So, do yourself and everyone else around you a favor and save your boardshorts for the beach. It’s hard to maintain that athletic fashionista aesthetic when you smell like a rank gym sock.


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This Is Not the End of Fashion

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History and human nature prove we will dress up again. What that looks like is the real question.


It is a truth that may be hard to imagine in a world devastated by illness and economic insecurity, riven by racism and unrest, but we will get dressed again.

Dressed not for the anonymity of the hospital or the essential work force, the heat and heartbreak of the protest, the anomie of the supermarket or the park, but for the next stage catharsis. Capital D Dressed. It is both history and human nature.

“We will come out of this, like we come out of a war,” said Li Edelkoort, a trend forecaster. “The buildings are still there, but everything is in ruins. We will want two things: security and to dance.”

“We will be aching for something new, to refresh our personalities,” she said. “Eccentric clothes, romantic clothes.”

And that is why, after months in which the death of fashion was proclaimed loudly and regularly, a week when it was once again forced to confront its own role in preserving inequality, the motor of the industry has begun to shift into gear once more, in Europe and Asia if not yet in America, where stores remain nailed shut.

Thus far, there has been a lot of focus on the “system.” A lot of anguish about the need for change and angst over shopping. Will anyone ever want to do it again?

It’s the wrong question.

What we should be asking is: When we re-engage with a world pockmarked by pain, and see one another — from more than just the shoulders up — what will we want to wear?

It sounds ridiculous: Who cares what we will wear when there has been so much tragedy and economic destruction, when old wounds left to fester have been gashed open once again? But the root of that question is as cyclical as history: What will our post-crisis identities look like?

What will we want our clothes to telegraph about who we have become, and what these complicated experiences have meant? It is the answers to those questions that will pull us into stores again. It is the answers to those questions that will get factories humming again — much more so than interim safety precautions or the changes in fashion shows and clothing deliveries currently being mooted by industry insiders.

Not that there’s anything wrong with those changes; many are laudable, if still in draft form. The fashion circus is a creaky circus and in need of an update — not to mention even more meaningful grappling with race and representation in hiring and supply chains. Shows will be entirely digital at least until September, if they happen at all this year. (Many designers — Dries Van Noten is one — think not.) The British Fashion Council and the Council of Fashion Designers of America together published a statement effectively urging an end to the traveling pre-collection extravaganzas.

Open letters” to the industry have been issued, signed by a variety of retailers and mostly independent designers, pledging allegiance to a “right-seasoning” of store deliveries so that coats are sold when it is cold, bathing suits when it is warm, and sales take place after the big gift-giving seasons, not before.

And speaking of stores: They are reopening (or were, until they became fearful of damage from the protests), with hand sanitizer stations, social distancing, plexiglass protection and regular disinfecting. Still, the retail bankruptcies keep coming, the numbers get worse and worse.

It’s not going to be a need for more leggings that solves that problem — those we can get online. (And besides, hasn’t everyone realized that what we need is elsewhere?)

It’s going to be the irrational, emotional pull of a … something. The gut punch of recognition that comes from seeing a new way to cast your self. One that signals: “Yes, I have changed. Yes, things are different. Now we emerge in a new world.”

It’s on fashion to define that something, because that something is going to be how history remembers whatever happens next. It will do what clothes always do, which is symbolize a moment, and give it visual shape. What that shape will be is the existential question facing designers right now.

But here’s a bet: It’s not going to be sweatpants. It’s not going to be the all-black patchwork of the antifa or the Hawaiian shirts that have been co-opted recently by far-right anarchists.

Right now, the news is full of intensity, just as previously it was full of Crocs, of speculation that after months of living with elastic waists and stretchy fabrics, we will never go back. That just as white collar workers will never return to old office life or old office schedules, they will never return to old office dress and the social order that signified.

That may be true, and though it’s possible that this really is the end of fashion as it has been defined and disseminated by the aesthetic empires of the West — that Newton’s third law of motion no longer applies; that the Marxian thesis-antithesis-synthesis cycle that has powered our clothing choices for decades is over — it probably is not. If I were one of the companies currently crowing about being the “it” brand of the WFH wardrobe, or trying to clothe the uprising, I would not be resting on my laurels.

It is even more likely that we will develop some sort of Pavlovian association with the clothes that became the uniforms of our isolation and our impotence; that to see them will send us subconsciously down a wormhole to the pandemic; that what we will need is exactly the opposite.

That’s what the past teaches us, anyway.

Times of great trauma also produce moments of great creativity as we attempt to process what we have been through. The functional side of that is fashion. After periods of extremes — war, pandemic, recession — dress is a way to signal the dawning of a new age.

One of the most obvious examples of this, said Jessica Regan, the associate curator of the Costume Institute at the Met, is the period after World War I and the flu of 1918, when the lavish embellishment and physical liberation of the flapper era and the Harlem Renaissance emerged. Think, too, of the Dior New Look of 1947, which, with its acres of skirts and tiny waists, served as a direct riposte to the privations of World War II and the Depression. (It was, literally, a new look for a new time.)

A similar transformation took place after the bubonic plague swept the world in the mid-14th century. Valerie Steele, the director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, noted that the scourge gave rise to the more body-conscious dressing, plunging décolletage and lavish adornment in Europe that came to characterize the well-off of the Renaissance. “A symptom, perhaps, of people seeking pleasure while they could,” Ms. Steele said.

As recently as the mid-1970s, the oil crisis and the resulting recession gave birth to discorama and the explosion of color and tactility that was the Yves Saint Laurent Ballets Russes collection. The financial crisis of 2008 led, a few years later, to a backlash to the backlash and the luxury logos that dotted garments with the ubiquity of daisies in springtime.

This is not necessarily a sign of indulgence. It’s a statement of belief in the power of beauty to lift the spirit. Fashion is created for the future, and that implies faith in that future.

It suggests, said Jonathan Anderson, the designer of Loewe and of JW Anderson, who recently went back to his Paris office for the first time since his Loewe show in February, that we are nearing a time that demands “utopian fashion.” Volumes and colors that are “completely out there.”

We “will want beautiful things,” Alessandro Michele, the creative director of Gucci, said in a recent Zoom news conference. “The bamboo handle bag was created after World War II. It was a time of the rebirth of beauty.”

That also raises the stakes for an industry that has increasingly treated itself and what it makes as disposable. People may buy clothing that celebrates frivolity. But that is not the same thing as buying frivolously. Especially when money and where you spend it can make a political statement.

“This has taught us that we don’t miss stuff,” Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino said via Zoom. “We miss people. We don’t need another T-shirt exactly the same. We need something that delivers an idea, a culture.” Something that communicates a sense of the hands that have touched a garment, the imagination that has created it, the effort that has gone into it.

No one is going to rush out to buy a whole new wardrobe, nor are we likely to see the “revenge buying” in China that sparked what was reportedly Hermès’s best sales day turn into a trend. Indeed, analyst reports from Bain and the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce have found that people say they expect to buy fewer clothes, though not necessarily to spend less. There will be, said Lucie Greene, a consumer insights strategist, a certain amount of shame associated with having the extra income that allows for buying new clothes.

“The continual desire for newness for the sake of newness will feel very inappropriate,” she said.

As in 2008, when “stealth luxury” became a part of the vernacular and logo-a-gogo fell into disrepute, overt displays of wealth will probably be toned down. (Mr. Piccioli said he had already moved away from the logo.) So will the immediately identifiable decade-referencing trends that labeled clothes so 1980s, so 1990s. But, Ms. Greene said, “a beautiful piece that can be worn for multiple reasons for multiple years? That will be important.”

When going to a restaurant for the first time in a very long time, or having a dinner party with friends becomes an event — when, as Mr. Anderson said, everyday moments become “bigger” — the occasion will demand a costume to mark it. And if a dress (or a suit) becomes a totem of change, then it is not a casual purchase or one to be thrown away later.

“I have a feeling that the things we make have a longer life than the one we have allotted to them,” Mr. Michele said.

For years, fashion has fretted about the meaninglessness of its seasons, partly because global warming and globalization rendered them null and void and partly because there were so many collections, they couldn’t be temporally defined. (Pre-spring, after all, is simply … winter.)

Now it is actually in everyone’s interests to jettison them entirely. Timeless fashion is fashion that holds its value and can be worn and reworn. It can also be sold and resold. It does not become passé in a matter of days. This may mean that fewer garments are made and bought and shown. It may mean a contraction of volume that will impact manufacturers.

In the short term this could be painful, though the short term is already full of pain. In the long term it will help solve problems, including that of sustainability. (Eco-materials are good, but fewer materials staying in our closets longer is better.)

As Ms. Greene said, “disaster often accelerates, exponentially, the macro trends that predate its arrival.”

One of those trends was the importance of “experience.” But what does that mean?

When I first moved to London, back in the late 1990s, everyone who visited me wanted to go to Topshop at Oxford Circus. It was up there on the tourist wish list, along with the Eye, Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Harrods. Then Topshop went on an international push, opened on Lower Broadway in New York, and … no one really cared anymore.

The store had seemed to thrum with the energy of the city at that time. Its theater wasn’t art experiences on the walls or an in-house D.J., but watching other shoppers try on new identities in the group dressing rooms. The performance involved was the performance of being us.

Somewhere, in chasing the e-commerce promise of any product available at any time and in expanding locations to every street corner, that was lost. If one store was good, 10 would be better. Fifty. Two hundred, all around the world. They became a utility, like Amazon and Walmart. And then, when they were forced to shut their doors, they became a liability.

After all, if there is one thing we probably know after not shopping for a few months, it is that no one needs to leave the house to shop. There has to be a reason to push through the doors. And the idea of wandering lonely as a cloud through a socially distanced plexiglass-lined emporium is not it, especially if the socially distanced plexiglass-lined emporium on the other side of the street is pretty much exactly the same.

What stores should be is a destination: the embodiment of the history, society and culture of a city. This implies a certain singularity: the magic of one that still draws people to Harrods, to Bergdorf Goodman, to Le Bon Marché. The purchase is the souvenir of having been there, in those halls, on those escalators. With each other.

It implies the human connection, which is why certain boutiques — Capitol in Charlotte, N.C.; Ikram in Chicago; A’maree’s in Newport Beach, Calif.; Merci in Paris; Corso Como in Milan — were for so long magnets for so many (and probably will be again). The idiosyncratic taste of their owners, their conversation, cannot be replicated by an algorithm.

When designers talk about these proprietors, they talk about their belief in their work. About faith. When customers talk about them, they talk about discovery and emotion. Which are reminiscent of the kinds of words Ms. Edelkoort used when she talked about what’s next, like “craft” and “intimacy.”

In a recent letter to his staff, Jean Touitou, the founder of A.P.C., noted that he had considered simply closing his stores in March — that he had done enough and there was no reason to struggle on. But, he wrote, “the period that is opening up right now is a revolutionary period in which everything can be reinvented.” He realized, he said, “I want to continue to make fashion.”

In Rome, Mr. Michele said he was “discovering new ways of being creative, new ways of working.” He is planning to call the last collection he designed before the pandemic “Epilogue,” in acknowledgment that it is the end of an era. The next one? Possibly “Overture.”

In Nettuno, Italy, Mr. Piccioli was talking about the work he had begun. “We need to be more radical, more extreme in our choices,” he said. “It’s interesting what’s coming out.”

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Cant visit a Gucci store? Gucci Live will bring personalised online shopping to you : Luxurylaunches

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You can’t bring yourself to a Gucci store? Then bring the Gucci store to you! Gucci’s latest tech bet has it recreating the personal experience of in-store shopping through Gucci Live. No one goes anywhere; not the potential client nor the executive making the sale. The only thing that will make a move is a lot of money and an exceptionally good-looking handbag right from the safe comforts of your humble abode. It works with an impeccably dressed client-advisor showing you the latest offerings of the luxury brand from what can be called a ‘faux luxury store’. It is a space created with cameras and TV-style lighting for the new “remote clienteling” as Gucci dubs this first-of-its-kind service. The staff communicates with shoppers on their mobiles or laptops from the 2,300-square-metre client services hub, Gucci 9 in Florence. Let’s not be fooled by images of long beelines outside luxury stores. The sales are still badly affected and these lines alone won’t salvage the losses. This is why such innovations are the need of the day not just to amp businesses but to get the esteemed consumer what they desire to purchase. A large number of potential and interested clients are still unable to visit stores but require the personal service associated with luxury.


Marco Bizzarri, Gucci president and CEO, said in a statement when Gucci 9 opened, “The mission of our Gucci 9 global service centre is to provide our customers around the world with a direct connection to the Gucci community that is a seamless, always accessible, personalized experience,” Gucci is currently appointing only a handful of client advisors in the six Gucci 9 centres in New York, Tokyo, Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai, and Florence.

[Via: Vogue Business]

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