SoHo in New York City, normally a bustling neighborhood that basically functions as an open-air mall, is empty. Shop windows typically buzzing with tourists and Instagramers posing for fit checks are marked with signs announcing closings due to the novel’s global release. coronavirus – luxury brands like Coach, Fendi and Dolce & Gabbana have been completely barricaded, as if they were preparing for looters. Since we’re all supposed to stay home (please, unless you have to go to work, for god’s sake, please stay home) and ‘flatten the curve’, that is – say slowing the spread of the virus, shopping outside is basically a no runner. But what about online shopping?
There are a number of considerations when it comes to shopping online in this new world. Is it safe to receive packages? Are the conditions safe for workers? With unemployment rates rising rapidly, is it wise to spend money on clothes in the first place? When we can’t go out, is it even worth buying anything other than the most comfortable sweatpants?
When it comes to receiving mail, scientists have found that the CoV-2 virus can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard, so it is a good policy to Lysolate your packages before putting them inside. But there is no need for hysteria. Cardboard is a porous surface, which experts say is good for preventing viral transmission (the tissue is also porous – but there are no precise numbers yet on how long the virus lives on the tissue, so it is a good idea to wash the clothes once you receive them).
Essentially, you won’t get a crown for picking up a box. “What you need to consider, however, is that these tests are performed under ideal testing conditions,” said Rachel Graham, a virologist at the University of North Carolina. NPR. “It’s like in a sort of airtight box where there is no fluctuation in humidity, there is no wind, there is nothing that can contribute to the desiccation of the virus. And so desiccation – or drying out of the virus – would actually reduce the time it is actually viable on any type of surface. “
But what about the conditions for the workers? Since the second week of March, when the virus began to spread around the world, I have received countless emails from fashion companies assuring customers that they have sent their employees home to practice social distancing. , and special sanitary precautions are taken at parcel processing facilities. But it is not everywhere. Amazon and Instacart workers are on strike; employees have been exposed to COVID-19 in warehouses and say their employers are not protecting them with proper sanitation, let alone paid sick leave. Even fashion companies that seem much more cuddly than Bezos’ juggernaut don’t hesitate to treat their employees badly. Everlane, which touts itself as a bastion of ethical fashion and makes basics for basics, was recently admonished by Senator Bernie Sanders for anti-unionism in a crisis.
So, when it comes to shopping online during a pandemic, it’s important to be even more aware than usual of those you support. In a column for the New York Times, Fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote that shopping during a pandemic is selfish, fluffy, “just the other side of evil” or, as one of her readers put it, “shameful.” People are dying, jobless and desperate – with very little hope of help from the US government. But as Friedman wrote, shopping “is also a vital part of our economy; retail is a huge source of employment and creative expression.” In some ways, she noted, “the state of shopping is a sign of the times.” Those 25% discounts shouldn’t spark any joy: they’re a retailer’s call for help. “Shopping is now as much a moral issue as it is a consumer issue,” she added. “Where you spend your money matters. Before you buy, think about: what is it? It could be helping save a generation of small designers and independent businesses. ”
This line of thinking seems to be the best and perhaps the only ethical way to shop online. If you can afford it, buy your clothes from small businesses that you would like to see the virus live on. The people who contribute so much to our culture – designers, artists, conductors, musicians, everyone’s interesting – are being wiped out by this, the plague. So if you can help, spend your money wisely.
“Shopping and shopping online is the only lifeline for many small businesses right now,” designer Adam Selman, who heads the sportswear brand. Adam selman sport (aka ASS) tells PAPER in an Instagram direct message. Selman makes the most comfortable sweatpants this reporter has ever owned, as well as some incredibly flattering leggings that work both for trying on home workout videos and for taking photos to send to her coronavirus boyfriend. And he thinks it’s a watershed moment for the industry.
“Buyers are in a unique position to shape the future of what surrounds them and survives it,” he wrote. “That leaves a big opening – a lot of Goliaths in the industry could fall and more savvy brands could define the next chapter we live in. Currently, online ordering is another form of voting. Support the brands you love. and in which you believe. “
Brandon Veloria, co-owner of New York’s best vintage boutique, James Veloria, kept orders online, aided by an active and cheerful social media presence. (The store is lovely Instagram stories, in which Veloria models the archival looks of Jean Paul Gaultier and Vivienne Westwood, must see.)
“Making stories and selling online definitely kept me sane,” he wrote in a DM. “It’s a great way to continue to maintain a community and relationships with people I would normally see in person.”
“I think in general it’s important for us because we can continue to maintain jobs for our staff who are like family to us, and I think of a lot of our clients,” he added. “Honestly, even though people don’t buy anything, all the messages of support have been so encouraging and make me feel less alone or trapped in it all. And I hope my silly stories help people feel the same. . “
Watching Veloria’s stories adds a touch of glamor to my otherwise dull and drab days. I sit in pajamas and watch him in Comme de Garçons and Raf Simons’ 90s button down shirts and think about how badly I want to dress for anything, anything. And then last night I decided I just had to dress for no reason, just to feel better. I put on a vintage Vivienne Westwood tartan with a cropped black Margiela sweater and high heels, the exact outfit I wore to a date just before the world stopped. It made me feel a little more normal even though I only wore it to watch The talented Mr. Ripley and bake banana bread while intoxicated.
Dressing – or at least putting on outerwear – seems to have a positive effect on the battered psyches of quarantined fashion enthusiasts. All over my social media feeds people are all getting glamorous, just for fun (I would dress for a Zoom party too, but I haven’t been invited to any of them). On Instagram, accounts like Work From Home Fits encourage people to have fun with fashion, even if no one will see it IRL. So if you have the cash and want something from a local store or designer, don’t feel weird ordering it. You would do your best to keep a business and a culture alive, a little bit longer.