What It’s Like To Work In The Fashion Industry During A Pandemic

When New York City shut down in March, I was really worried about my job.

A job that I had just started in February.

It came as no surprise that one of the hardest hit industries was the retail industry. I mean, who was buying clothes during a freakin’ pandemic? Even with the rise of online shopping, stores having to close really impacted retailers all over the world. What we thought would be two weeks turned into MONTHS of doors being shuttered. And a lot of uncertainty.

As I write this post, I’m reliving what I went through over the last 5 months. I will preface all of this by saying just how freakin’ lucky I am. While there was a lot of fear involved, I know many others have been going through an even rougher time. We’ve all had our own experiences, but I thought I’d share mine.

will i lose my job?

Every week, I held my breath. I thought for SURE I would get a call from my boss telling me I was either laid off or furloughed. And every passing week I felt extremely lucky that I was able to continue to do my job. I was able to continue to help my team. I was able to continue to get a paycheck. I didn’t have to try to get in touch with unemployment. It was heavy at times, but I was always just super grateful.

the ethics of it all

Did it feel icky to promote clothing when people were losing their jobs and not sure what to do next (this applies to both my job and this business)? Yes. At times, it certainly did. But looking at social media, numbers, and other metrics, one thing was clear: People wanted to feel good. And our clothes made them feel good. And that made me feel good. I absolutely loved working for a brand that put our girl’s comfort above everything. We knew she was going through it just like we were, so we wanted her to be as comfortable as possible – especially during those first few months. The more people I spoke to (thank goodness I also have this platform to see how you guys were feeling), the more I realized that if you could shop and you wanted to shop, you did. So that always made me feel better knowing that there were people out there craving some kind of normalcy. And I’m glad we could give it to our customers.

a big piece of my job

Another huge part is not being able to go to the office. As a merchandiser, a HUGE part of my job is to give our girl the BEST fabrics and colors. Especially with my brand. We pride ourselves on the best fabric that not only you feel comfortable in, but look good in. Not being able to play around with fabrics, colors, and samples has definitely been challenging. It’s a huge reason why I left my job at Free People. Luckily, I have an amazing cross-functional team and it’s easy to trust them when it comes to sharing what a fabric looks and feels like. It’s definitely something I’m missing A LOT though.

what’s happening now?

Well, it’s tough. You’ve probably seen that my company filed for bankruptcy. This is the first time I’ve ever been with a company that has filed, so I don’t really have any insight on what comes next. I do know and I’m very happy to share, that I still have a job. Again, very, very grateful. I definitely had some “survivor’s guilt” though, since I’m still really new. At the end of the day, it became clear that I was chosen to be part of the team for a reason, which makes me want to work way harder. I’ll share more in the coming months, but this is a huge chapter for me and my career. I’m ecstatic to be given this opportunity to CHANGE a business and a brand and do it the way I think our customer will love. 

photos by allie provost

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  1. 8.10.20
    Alissa said:

    Man, the fashion world in general to me makes me always afraid for sweet people like you (but you have proven it’s actually wonderful) but I cannot imagine the wild ride it’s been for everyone! I am so glad you still have a job and I know you are going to do amazing things. I really do!

    • 8.10.20

      Oh yeah, the HORROR stories I’ve heard (and even have a few myself). But at the end of the day, I’m so glad I work for a company that genuinely wants their customers to FEEL GOOD in the clothes they choose to buy from us. THANK YOU SO MUCH, my friend! So sweet of you as always!

  2. 8.11.20
    Laura Leigh said:

    Thank you for sharing this look into your job and the past few weeks with us! I am thrilled you still have a job, still loving it, and still have lots of opportunities. Hate you’re missing the office life and having survivors guilt! Like you said, you were chosen for a reason! Better to focus on that part of it!

    xo Laura Leigh

    • 8.12.20

      It’s SO easy to focus on the negatives, but I have an amazing team that I’m really proud to be part of. So yes, definitely need to focus on that!! Thanks for reading, friend. x

  3. 8.11.20

    I love hearing your experience and totally connect with a lot of this from a store perspective! It’s such an interesting time for retail, fashion, & blogging, but you are handling it all so well!

    • 8.12.20

      Oh I know you DEFINITELY can relate. So interesting, and I’m actually very interested to see how retail shifts because of the pandemic.

  4. 8.12.20
    Lisa Autumn said:

    Thank you so much for the insight lovely x

    Lisa | lisaautumn.com