As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the nation — and we all stay home to prevent the spread — independent fashion companies are struggling to stay afloat. The best way to help local brands survive the crisis (and treat yourself for being a good social-distancer) is by shopping online.
Here are six of our favorite NYC-based labels worth your precious pennies. They all have great missions, too.
This Lower East Side-based label may be less than a year old, but it’s already on the radar of model Elsa Hosk and pop star Madison Beer — and for good reason.
Founder Lisa Caprio makes and models vintage-inspired wares, including itty-bitty bikinis, matching silky sets and angel-adorned gold hoops, all influenced by childhood summers at the Jersey Shore and impromptu thrift-store finds. Maki, the label’s go-to garment-maker, sews 80 percent of the store’s quirky pieces in her downtown Manhattan apartment, ensuring zero factory waste.
“I bring her everything she needs to make the garments, down to the buttons and zippers,” Caprio tells The Post.
While most of the label’s online orders are being processed and shipped as usual during the lockdown, the shop’s coveted, custom-printed swimwear (inspired by the ’90s cult film “Now and Then”) can be pre-ordered now, and will ship in May.
The 28-year-old designer is also connecting one-on-one with Heavy Manners’ loyal customers via her @_heavymanners and personal @hotstufflildevil Instagram accounts. “I want to tell them everything, and feel like we are all just hanging out in the living room.”
If you’re currently missing the thrill of scouring secondhand stores for lust-worthy, one-of-a-kind frocks, click no further than Eveliina Vintage for your fix.
And don’t worry, most of the NYC- and Miami-based label’s airy tops and bohemian dresses from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s won’t require a costly dry cleaner trip before or after wear.
“Most of the fabrics — Victorian whites, silk lingerie, cotton and silk dresses — are meant to be water washed, and we try to clean every piece to give them a fresh, clean look,” the shop’s 67-year-old, Helsinki-born owner Eeva Musacchia tells The Post.
Musacchia’s 26-year-old twin daughters Emilia and Amanda are also part of the family business, handling its creative social-media presence, which has proven vital during the current economic and health crisis.
“While we want to sell on our Instagram [@eveliinavintage], we also aim to inspire and present a little bit of beauty for our followers’ feeds,” the founder says.
Cozy sweats that never pill, fade or shed — for under $100? Sounds too good to be true. Yet Sabrina Zohar, 30, began offering exactly that when she debuted her New York-based leisure brand Softwear in 2017.
The launch came on the heels of her mother surviving the unthinkable: “They found six aneurysms [in her brain] and gave her a 3 to 5 percent chance of any normal life,” Zohar tells The Post. “After failed surgeries, they invented a coil [to treat her] and it worked. I started Softwear the next day!”
Her clothing is proudly made in the United States, all the way down to the yarn. “Our fabric is dyed, woven and finished sustainably in LA, using nontoxic dyes and chemicals,” she says. “We then cut and sew right here in Brooklyn, New York, at a sustainable manufacturing facility.”
Keeping any small business alive during the COVID-19 pandemic is no easy feat, but Zohar is still committed to fulfilling online orders from her apartment. “I go to the post office one to two times a day to drop off orders, and pray every day they continue to roll in, so we can cover rent.”
The company is offering 40 percent off for all health-care and frontline workers, as well as complimentary tie-dyeing on any white or tan pieces purchased. “I am hustling,” Zohar says. “No other way we can stay afloat.”
The wanderlust-inspired brand SVNR (pronounced “souvenir”) began on a whim over Memorial Day Weekend in 2018, when a friend posted Christina Tung’s DIY jewelry designs on Instagram.
“Immediately, buyers from reputable department stores and others in the fashion industry began messaging me,” Tung, 36, tells The Post. “I took some photos and sent them out to editors. Vogue wrote me back within five minutes and convinced me to launch a brand!”
The Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn-based business delivers “hand-dyed-to-imperfection” slip dresses, crocheted bags and crafty jewelry — all handmade from found, reused, up-cycled and natural materials.
“Each jewelry piece is named after a different city around the world and informed by its landscape and architecture — whether lush and green, vibrantly multicolored, earthy or muted,” she says.
To help combat the COVID-19 crisis, the emerging label is donating 50 percent of web sales to Meals on Wheels, an organization that delivers food to senior citizens. “I was advised to lower my [donation] percentage and maybe that would have been smarter for self-preservation, but that wasn’t what it was about,” Tung explains. She also launched a GoFundMe to raise money for personal protective equipment and ventilator parts.
Inspired by his father’s South Florida painting company, Jerome Peel began making cool-kid work shirts out of his Bushwick, Brooklyn, apartment in 2016. Just a few years later, the 29-year-old’s painter pants, plaid shirts, quirky tees and workwear zip-ups are sought after by the likes of Lady Gaga (not to mention skaters, streetwear fiends and fashion insiders).
The company now operates out of a Chinatown studio, where Peel designs and personally custom-embroiders his made-to-order merch. “I’m just hoping one day I can afford an office with windows,” he jokes to The Post.
He’s still working hard from that Canal Street studio amid the coronavirus lockdown. Each day he wraps his face, tucks his hands in his pockets and walks to the post office to mail his unisex duds to customers, being careful to keep a 6-foot distance from others.
“For the people that are buying, I am so grateful for them — that’s the only way I’m eating,” Peel says. “These days will really prove who is dedicated, because if you aren’t, you won’t last.”
Ten years ago another set of twins — Morgan and Samantha Elias, 29 — built one of the world’s first vintage brands (consisting of reworked T-shirts, sweatsuits and outerwear) from the basement of their mom’s house on Long Island.
The siblings sold their buzzy designs in innovative pop-up shops as well as a Soho flagship, which previously accounted for 90 percent of the label’s sales, before COVID-19 shut down the city.
“I broke my lease in NYC and moved out to Long Island to cut my personal overhead,” Samantha tells The Post. “This allows me to be close to our warehouse to support our e-commerce pivot, but is a radical change to say the least, given that I’m eight months pregnant!”
Since closing their brick-and-mortar stores a few weeks ago, TVT has had to lay off 26 out of 30 employees to avoid bankruptcy. The founders are hoping that the team can be rehired in the coming months with the help of government small-business subsidies.
The hardworking siblings are currently reaching out to celeb fans, such as Kaia Gerber, for virtual exposure. They’re also hustling to meet new demand from online shoppers. “We are literally back in Mom’s basement,” explains Samantha. “Morgan is shooting whatever inventory we have access to at a makeshift home studio to keep the website stocked.”
By Nicole Zane