by MIKE CHAIKEN
The fashion industry worldwide has been affected by COVID-19.
Yes, there have been cancellations and postponements of fashion shows across the globe.
However, more importantly, there have been canceled orders as major retailers and boutiques shut their doors during the weeks of self-quarantine.
Unemployment also has soared so consumers locked up their wallets to focus on food and toilet paper.
This perfect storm has left fashion brands, large, medium and small, trying to keep their head above water.
“Everything came to a screeching halt, no weddings, no events (due to COVID-19),” said Connecticut fashion designer Troy Anthony. “I had to furlough all my seamstresses in order to protect them and no customers came to our store since everything was shut down.”
“Sales decreased dramatically, and I was left searching for funding,” said Anthony. “I felt like I was back to being a struggling artist.”
Instead of gowns and cocktail dresses, Anthony had to “pivot” and make masks and PPE. It was the only way, he said, to stay afloat.
“Luckily, I was deemed essential and was able to make masks for those in need,” said Anthony. “I teamed up with Hartford Fashion Week to help… ship (masks).”
Like many Americans, Anthony looked to government assistance to help him make it through the hard times.
“I applied for the City of Hartford grant to help minority businesses but unfortunately was denied,” said Anthony, who said the money he hoped for seemed to go toward finance, real estate and technology entities. Not a penny seemed to be made available to the creative sector, like fashion designers.
“I had to borrow from my 401k retirement funds in order to renovate our store ‘Anthony’s Fashion’ in Hartford,” said Anthony.
“It’s frustrating that when a small business like myself with good credit and has shown profits doesn’t get funded,” said Anthony.
The government is missing out on an opportunity by not supporting creatives, said Anthony.
“I grew up in the arts and it’s played a positive impact on my life and taught me a lot,” said the designer.
“I think it’s important for the artist community to come together to support one another to help force change and make an impact where the state sees the value of the arts and helps fund these art programs that we need and that our kids need.”
If the arts community doesn’t see assistance, Anthony said artists won’t be able to continue to use their talent for their livelihood.
“It’s important to me to bring awareness to this issue of an underfunded art community so that future generations can benefit from art like I did,” said Anthony.
For his part, Anthony is not ready to thrown in the towel as a fashion designer.
“I’m confident business will come back, especially since we do quality work,” said Anthony.
But, Anthony said, “I hope change happens so that small black owned businesses can get access to more funding to help create jobs and help teach the youth the arts and survival skills such as sewing and tailoring.”