Late Wednesday evening, designer Carly Cushnie released a statement via email saying that she is closing her namesake label, Cushnie. The letter, which she posted on Instagram this morning, cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the reason.
“As many designers have experienced, the fashion and retail landscape has become increasingly challenging over the years,” she said. “While my brand has persevered through unending headwinds, the effects of COVID-19 have hurt my business beyond repair, and it is with great sadness that I share Cushnie will be closing its doors.”
Cushnie cofounded the brand with Michelle Ochs, her classmate at Parsons School of Design, under the name Cushnie et Ochs in 2008. The duo parted ways in 2018, and Cushnie took sole control. In the 12 years it has been in business, the brand was a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and dressed style icons including Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Liya Kebede.
The New York–based label was known for offering slinky, draped gowns and flirty day dresses in bold colors, selling at premiere retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and Net-a-Porter. It also ventured into athleisure, collaborating on capsule collections with Bandier in 2016 and Carbon38 in 2018. More recently, Cushnie joined forces with Target for its Design for All series. “I became one of the first Black female designers to launch a successful collaboration with Target,” Cushnie said.
“While there are many achievements I am so proud of, it would be neglectful not to acknowledge having to fight much harder than my male peers to be afforded the same opportunities,” she continued. “One of the great ironies of the fashion industry is that while it caters to and profits from women, it has never felt like an industry that supports them. This is especially true for women of color.”
Despite the successful Target collab and her many accolades, Cushnie wasn’t able to recover from the lack of fall wholesale orders as a result of the ongoing global pandemic. She was in the process of raising capital to sustain operations, but was told by investors that she had to wait until after the election year. “Unfortunately, I didn’t have that sort of time,” she told The New York Times.
Still, Cushnie is grateful to her loyal customers, and expressed how she will continue to be a force for positive change in the fashion industry.
“While this past year has been challenging, it has allowed me the time to reflect, reset, and realign my goals and my passion for design has never been stronger,” she said. “I recognize the power of my presence and will continue to fight for the causes and values I believe in, and will always continue to create.”
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