Like millions of other people, Michael Kors went into strict COVID-19 quarantine in March. He and a limited number of staffers returned to the office in mid-June, the better to deal with hands-on issues of design. Kors’ mask of choice: Scalamandre zebras, the same print that once graced the walls of the now-closed Gino’s restaurant, near Bloomingdale’s. Throughout the pandemic, Kors has maintained his long-running trunk-show schedule, only now, via Zoom. He conducted a Neiman Marcus event in front of a wall of portraits he’s collected over the years.

Delivering Good held its annual gala virtually Wednesday night, honoring leaders in the fashion industry, including Michael Kors and Terry Lundgren.

Triple Five Group’s chief creative officer Ken Downing stepped in as the host of the event with help from Whoopi Goldberg. In its 35th year, Delivering Good dubbed this year’s event “Coming Together to Create a More Equitable World.” It was streamed from the Empire State Building and featured musical performances by Aloe Blacc and Allen Stone. Delivering Good helps those around the world who have been directly impacted by natural disasters, COVID-19, homelessness and other challenges, by providing them with donated goods and other assistance.

Striving to raise $2 million on Wednesday night, Delivering Good has collected more than $200 million worth of product this year alone. The honorees included Lundgren for the Lifetime Achievement Award; Kors for the Vanguard Award; Angela Chan, managing director and president of Chargeurs *PCC Fashion Technologies, and Amanda and Karen Zuckerman, cofounders of Dormify, with the Women of Inspiration Award, and American Eagle Outfitters, which also creates the Aerie label, with the Impact Award.

For the first time this year, Delivering Good combined its annual gala and its Women of Inspiration Luncheon into one event. The organization’s efforts this year and heading into 2021 will be focused on U.S. regions with high rates of homelessness among youths and young adults. 

In accepting his award, Lundgren noted how, growing up, his father worked two jobs and his mother raised him and his five siblings, “who were always not the most controlled,” he said. “I was very lucky. I am the only one of the six, including my parents, who went to college. So I was given opportunities perhaps that were not expected. There were not conversations at the dinner table, and frankly they were not expected of myself. I was probably on the receiving end of some of the great work that was being done by organizations like Delivering Good in the early days.”

Right out of college in his first job at Federated Department Stores and Bullock’s in Los Angeles, Lundgren said he learned about the benefits of giving back, not only to the communities, but also the teamwork effect it had on employees. The retail authority praised the fashion industry for the various ways that companies and individuals give back generously to their communities.

Although he retired as the executive chairman of Macy’s Inc. in 2018, Lundgren has many pursuits. In addition to serving on several Fortune 500 companies’ boards, Lundgren said he is advising five other companies in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Teaching at Columbia’s Business School and mentoring MBA students there keeps him busy, as well as his involvement with the University of Arizona’s Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retail. Lundgren said he is excited to be working with an organization that is going to help collect data on consumer spending and how they access product in different places. “I think it’s going to be a game-changer, but can’t talk too much about it.”

Goldberg praised Kors beyond his fashion talents. “When you look at all that he’s done and [what he’s] done for people, you just kind of go, ‘Wow.’ What, has he donated more than $35 million in apparel and accessories just in the pandemic? It’s amazing.”

In a pretaped video chat with Downing that was aired during the digital gala, Kors said, “My grandmother always said to me, ‘Even if you have a dollar, find something that you care about and give back.’ We’ve gotten so many of our customers and fans to donate $5, a dollar. That $5 sounds inconsequential, but in fact, it’s 50 school meals for the [United Nations] World Food Programme.”

During these difficult times, Kors said he has shared a this-too-shall-pass sentiment with his team to help them during the coronavirus. “In fashion, when we find that right alchemy and someone puts something on, they sort of have a spring in their step, they feel more confident, they feel like their best self. That’s my favorite part of being a designer. Listen, a fashion show is loads of fun, and a photo shoot is certainly a lot of fun. Fashion is you zip up the right dress and you feel great,” Kors said.

Whether volunteering or offering one-dollar donations, the designer said he hopes that others will be inspired to help people that they have never met before.

Acknowledging the industry’s support to help individuals and families around the world, who are in need, Andrea Weiss, Delivering Good’s board chair, said, “Recent hurricanes and wildfires, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, have affected so many, and our industry’s generosity enables us to help deliver donations of much-needed new merchandise to these communities.”

Accepting the Impact Award on behalf of American Eagle Outfitters, Stacy Siegal, executive vice president and general counsel, said, “The company’s cause-related marketing campaign helped to raise more than $1.5 million for Delivering Good to aid disadvantaged and homeless youth. The brand has also donated more than $300,000 in new product to Delivering Good.”

She said, “As a company, our purpose is to show the world that there is real power in the optimism of youth. We encourage this generation to take a stand on the issues that they believe in. Through our brand partnerships, like our holiday campaign with Delivering Good, we’re able to inspire today’s young people to make a difference in their communities.”

To help raise funds for Delivering Good, designers such as Batsheva Hay, Bibhu Mohapatra, Carol Brodie, Charlotte Brody, Coomi Bhasin, Cynthia Rowley, Devon Leigh, Josie Natori, Keith and James, Lela Rose, M.M.LaFleur designed by Miyako Nakamura, Rebecca Minkoff, Ruben Toledo, Stacey Bendet of Alice + Olivia, Yema Khalif and Zac Posen created bespoke items for an online auction.

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