The two initially established the CFDA/Vogue Fashion fund as a response to the 9/11 tragedy in 2001, and have now repurposed the initiative to help with the new challenges the industry is facing from the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to raising and distributing funds to those most affected by COVID-19, the fund–as part of a storytelling initiative–will also highlight designers and their stories in the wake of the new crisis hitting the fashion sector.
Through the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, Ralph Lauren made an inaugural $1 million gift to A Common Thread’s fundraising initiative.
“At the heart of our company, there has always been a spirit of togetherness that inspires our creativity, our confidence and most importantly our support for one another. In the past weeks and months, that spirit has never wavered,” Ralph Lauren, chairman and chief creative officer of his eponymous label, said. “We believe that no matter who you are or where you are from, we are all connected. That is why we are taking significant action to help our teams and communities through this crisis.”
“Ralph’s general contribution will go towards much-needed funds for those in the American fashion community who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA, said.
COVID-19 has impacted the industry at all levels, from stores to the supply chain. So far, the Elaine Gold Launch Pad Program, created in partnership with the Accessories Council and the CFDA, made a $250,000 donation to A Common Thread, and pledged an additional match of up to $250,000 in donations, bringing the total contribution to the fund to $500,000.
Others who have made donations to the fund include Kering, Michael Kors, Coach Foundation, David Geffen Foundation, Instagram, Nancy Marks, Nordstrom, PVH, Saks Fifth Avenue and Thom Brown New York.
Anyone who wishes to make a donation can do so at the CFDA website under its Program category, which lists A Common Thread under the designers tab.
“Our goal with A Common Thread is to not only highlight all of the designers we know and love, but to also focus on those individuals who keep our industry running,” designer and CFDA chairman Tom Ford said.
Addressing the small business owners and workers across the U.S. who are suffering devastating economic consequences, Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, said, “The fashion industry has been hit hard. I have been speaking to so many American designers and others in the community who fear that they won’t make their payroll, or have had their orders returned, stores closed, who fear that their livelihoods may not survive what we’re all going through.”
A Common Thread, she added, “was created with all of this in mind.” And while the storytelling may be from the designers’ point of view, the initiative is really about all the “talented people they work with from the pattern makers, the cutters, the tailors, the embroiderers and so many more,” Wintour noted.
The fund began accepting applications on a rolling basis on Wednesday, with the first round of grants expected in mid-May. Applications submitted before April 19 will be considered for the first round. Applicants who do not receive a grant in the first round will have their applications rolled over for future consideration. The CFDA said grants of up to $100,000 will be determined based on the need of each applicant.