Café Forgot cofounders Vita Haas and Lucy Weisner are used to seeing each other nearly every day. Under current coronavirus lockdowns in New York City, they’ve gone a month without meeting up in person — something that would have seemed unfathomable not too long ago.
The experimental fashion boutique, which stages monthlong temporary installations in its East Village space, was unable to open an April edition of Café Forgot due to the COVID-19 crisis. Still beholden to paying a sizable portion of their rent (they did receive a discount from their landlords for April), Haas and Weisner fast-tracked their e-commerce site to try to make up for potential lost revenue.
“Thinking about our finances and all of our expenses pushed us to figure out a solution. We still wanted it to feel like you were just standing in the store and to maintain the temporary nature of everything,” Weisner said of their site’s quick turnaround.
Realistic about the state of retail, Weisner and Haas established Café Forgot as a bimonthly pop-up shop concept to inspire a sense of urgency in shoppers. In the off months, their store operates as a gallery space or showroom for brands and artists — giving the company a supplementary form of income. Café Forgot has become a refuge for the city’s community of small brands creating one-off, avant-garde designs.
In order to maintain the temporary nature of Café Forgot’s physical space, Haas and Weisner intend to change out their site’s designer roster and products each month. Some months, they may only sell a few products while others — especially amid COVID-19 — will offer a wider breadth. Products are photographed on tables or clothing hangers — consistent with how they’d be seen in the Café Forgot store.
Their e-commerce site launched Friday and has already sold through much of its accessories inventory, particularly cheerful earrings by Joey Shares, sunglasses and hair bands by Sparkle Diva and iridescent handbags by Fior di Latte. “I think people are gravitating towards positive things like that right now,” said Haas.
Their site will also soon begin selling tie-dye masks by designer Emily Dawn Long and earth-tone styles by Onea for around $20 each to respect the “sensitive” nature of people’s shopping budgets today.