Byline: Eric Wilson

NEW YORK — The sale of a simple T-shirt might be a drop in the bucket in comparison to the overall volume of the apparel industry, but it can be a symbolic drop.
At a news conference in Bryant Park Tuesday morning, more than 100 designers including Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors and Carolina Herrera turned out wearing “Fashion for America” T-shirts that the CFDA has created to raise money for the Twin Towers Fund established by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. About 100,000 of the T-shirts — fashioned with a heart divided into red and blue halves by a needle and thread — will be delivered to 400 stores around the country, selling for $22.50 apiece beginning Nov. 1.
“We’re back in Bryant Park as a community with a mission to revitalize our city and our nation,” said Stan Herman, president of the CFDA. “We are here to rally the American consumer to shop again and to show what we as Americans do best, which is to give back.”
Hilfiger spoke at the podium, declaring that part of the CFDA’s Fashion for America campaign will be to further Giuliani’s message that “one of the best ways we can support our country is to get out and act as if we are living on Sept. 10.” Karan added, “Imagine supporting your country by doing something that you love, which is to shop.”
The campaign also includes a print advertising campaign, with models Carolyn Murphy and Gisele Bundchen and actress Julianne Moore wearing the T-shirts, to be featured in Vogue, Martha Stewart Living and Men’s Health magazines. In all, the campaign expects to raise at least $2 million, picking up on the CFDA’s successful Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign that has raised over $16 million worldwide just through T-shirt sales over the past seven years.
But the point of all this is not about selling T-shirts.
Michael Gould, chairman and chief executive of Bloomingdale’s, cited the psychological benefits of giving consumers a reason to shop and the importance of helping to stimulate retail sales.
“This is not a commercial endeavor,” Gould said. “We want people to resume a life again.”
After receiving a lot of applause over the past six weeks for his part in spreading that message, Giuliani took the opportunity to show his gratitude toward the fashion industry, which is the city’s largest segment of manufacturing jobs. He wore a cap featuring the Fashion for America logo, which he said will be the only occasion this month when he will not don that of the World Series-bound New York Yankees.
“I can’t thank the fashion industry enough for the support they have shown all of us,” Giuliani said. “This is another way to defend ourselves. We can be ourselves — doing the things we’d individually do — going on vacation, buying things you’d ordinarily buy for yourselves or for your friends. This is part of the freedom that we don’t want to let them take away from us.
“So shopping is important,” he said. “Get out of your house and do it.”