This has been quite the year for identifying trends, as Fashion is way down on the essentials list.

Vogue Magazine’s June/July issue has a single rose on the cover with the caption “Our Common Thread.” The rose symbolizes “beauty, hope and reawakening.” Since their staff was under quarantine, the ability to do photo shoots and fill the issue with glamour was impossible. So, for the first time in 128 years, Vogue celebrated solidarity instead of celebrity. 

There has been a spiraling effect in the fashion industry much like what other industries have faced during the pandemic. Fashion designers and clothing manufacturers have been forced to shut down while their clients, the retailers, have waited for months to reopen. Spring and Summer clothing and accessories have been under lock down at a cost of millions of dollars and in the fast pace of fashion, would have normally been replaced by Fall 2020 collections arriving in June.

What to do if you are a designer? Masks are not only necessary, but in some cases mandated during the COVID era. Designers are filling the need in creating masks that not only offer protection but can also reflect your personality and even match your outfit. Ok, maybe not your sweats. 

Richard Hallmarq, who competed on Project Runway, Season 11, and is a Benicia favorite, jumped on the trend early, creating cool masks that are easy to wear and yet stylish, in fabrics that are reminiscent of graphic artists and couture legends. He has been producing for companies that are using the masks as gifts to clients.

I was recently contacted by one of my reps who, because all the wholesale markets are closed, has started a PPE (personal protective equipment) collection for hospitals. Again, these garments are functional, and yet, have a design element.

As we focus on the new normal and stores start to reopen, will we find the needs of the customer have changed? While sheltering at home, they have spent months shopping online and having their purchases delivered to their door with easy pick up for returns. Many remain in the WFH (work from home) mode and, if they have a meeting on Zoom, can quickly throw a jacket over that PJ top. There have been opportunities for brick and mortar retail to open online stores, but realistically, it is a whole different business of developing followers and constant attention to inventory levels. Not the business we spent years developing and building loyal clientele.

I believe that shoppers are looking for a bit of normal and want to be able to reconnect with other human beings. They are thankful that retail is back in some form. Meanwhile, what has been the “common thread” in the first week of reopening?….the mask! Everyone needs them, and in some ways they fulfill the need for retail therapy. 

Remember, we are all in this together!