John Elliott, Willy Chavarria and Alejandro Gómez Palomo.

Amidst all the uncertainty and havoc that COVID-19 has created throughout the industry, one thing is certain: Young men’s wear designers remain hopeful and continue to push through with positivity toward the outlook of their businesses.

Colm Dillane  Courtesy of Kidsuper

There is definitely a shift from consumerism. People are no longer purchasing “meaningless” items. A brand’s story and meaning is more important than ever. How do we take what we stand for as a brand and apply it to new mediums? The KidSuper brand has a clear, strong identity: a childlike sense of wonder where anything is possible. I have to bring that same feeling into new “products,” virtual or utilitarian, such as videos, tutorials, etc.  Colm Dillane, founder, KidSuper

David Hart of David Hart.

David Hart  Courtesy of David Hart

I’ve been staying and working from home for the past two weeks and working with clients remotely via video chat. I’m also using Zoom to teach my advanced portfolio class at FIT. In the meantime I’m keeping myself occupied cataloging my collection of vintage photography. David Hart, founder, David Hart

Willy Chavarria of Willy Chavarria.

Willy Chavarria  Courtesy of Willy Chavarria

A very large shift in focus to our online business. We are interacting more personally with our customers and offering special lower-priced items through our Love Club membership. We are having conversations about how fashion will change through a crisis that makes us more human, less superficial. Willy Chavarria, founder, Willy Chavarria

Brian Chung of O.N.S.

Brian Chung  Courtesy of O.N.S.

At O.N.S, we are going through a challenging time like everyone in the world but we are keeping optimistic. We had just launched our Death to Tennis capsule collection mid-March, right before event restrictions were put into place, and we probably hosted one of the last launch events in NYC. In addition to what was meant to be a six-week pop-up, we had planned a lot of our major efforts for the year for the first six months into some exciting upcoming capsule collections that we had lined up for spring/summer. This has definitely made us re-evaluate our situation and although it’s tough we are staying positive and staying connected in different ways to our customers. Thankfully, everyone from our O.N.S community, manufacturing partners and our landlords have all been super supportive during these unprecedented times. Brian Chung, founder, O.N.S

Nikko Lencek-Inagaki of Freemans Sporting Club.

Nikko Lencek-Inagaki  Courtesy of Freemans

In the short term, we’re trying to continue supporting our staff financially, and I’m getting a personal and professional network ready to supply masks and gowns. We’ve refocused on engaging our customers online, with free shipping and a more aggressive release schedule. In the long term, we’re facing a real struggle with order cancellations, reducing our own inventory risk and — most crucially — the threat that our manufacturing partners, small, local businesses themselves, will not survive.  Nikko Lencek-Inagaki, design and production manager, Freemans Sporting Club

John Moore of Outerknown.

John Moore  Courtesy of Outerknown

And as we prepare for the future as a business, all of us at Outerknown are working remotely, and I’m very thankful to have so many means of communicating virtually — FaceTime, Slack, Zoom and Instagram. We’re already a digital-first brand, doing most of our sales on Outerknown.com, so we’re better prepared for these weeks ahead. As a designer, technology and social media can feel like a distraction, but right now I’m embracing it. This digital world is keeping us all connected. We had one of our best print and pattern meetings the other day with six of us looking at artwork on a video call. Prior to this, I would have told you that was a horrible idea, but it worked great, and forced us all to make clear decisions. Looking forward, it’s impossible to know how long this will last. This is a time to take a breath, and consider new ways of working and how we engage with our customers. John Moore, cofounder and chief creative, Outerknown

Nin Truong of Maiden Noir.

Nin Truong  Courtesy of Maiden Noir

While our online shop remains open, our Seattle-based DaDaDa gallery shop is closed to visitors. We are keeping our spirits up by staying busy with our small team and pushing forward as we have done in the last 15 years. We are refocusing some of our SS20 campaigns to include our greater local community to contribute to their immediate needs as our local economy is just as important to us. Being a small independent brand that is more global-minded, we are always working to safeguard ourselves constantly, as the fashion industry has always been a volatile market, especially for the smaller brands like us, as well as us being located in Seattle — a non-fashion-centered city. This is a big reminder that we need to slow down and treasure what is really important, our family and loved ones. We will need to pivot and make some tough decisions, but hopefully that is a new beginning, not an ending. Nin Truong,  founder and creative director, Maiden Noir

Reese Cooper of Reese Cooper.

Reese Cooper  Courtesy of Reese Cooper

For AW20, we had our best sales season, but we are having to make tough decisions about production costs and overhead going forward. The industry will forever change and we want to emerge on the other side and help create the new normal. As horrible as it seems right now, being a young brand has made us agile enough to create our own path. We will continue to focus on the future and staying connected with our customers during this crisis. Reese Cooper, founder and creative director, Reese Cooper

Rafal Swaider of R. Swaider.

Rafal Swiader  Courtesy of R. Swaider

As of Monday, March 16, our downtown store Mott NYC closed until further notice. We are active on social media and encourage people to purchase online, and we added a gift card option. We continue to ship orders out — I personally drive to the store from my home in Brooklyn, avoiding public transport, and ship boxes a few times a week. The rest of our team is home in quarantine. We will most definitely miss our spring ship dates to wholesale and we are thinking about scaling down for next season. Rafal Swiader, founder, R. Swiader

Ariel Ovadia of Ovadia.

Shimon Ovadia  Courtesy of Ovadia

It’s a time to reflect and focus on the things we have control over. I’m staying at home with my family and taking advantage of the time together with my three boys. To keep safe, we’re doing everything we can to avoid contact with people, ordering in as much as possible, not bringing packages into the house and constantly washing our hands. Shimon Ovadia, cofounder, Ovadia & Sons

 

Alejandro Gómez Palomo of Palomo Spain.

Alejandro Gómez Palomo  Courtesy of Palomo Spain

I think this stop is allowing us to have some time to think and see where we are now and what we’ve been doing so we can project with a bit of clarity what we want to do next. In our case, we are focusing on perfecting and promoting our own retail platform, the online store, which right now is our central pillar. Since we are located in a small town in southern Spain and taking all the measures, it’s 100 percent safe to prepare and send the orders to our customers around the world who are increasingly engaged. I’m positive that next fashion season is going to be a remarkable one. Alejandro Gómez Palomo, founder, Palomo Spain

A look from Onyrmrk.

A look from Onyrmrk.  Courtesy of Onyrmrk

As a small start-up brand and business, we are having to quickly restructure during these challenging times while remaining positive and continuously moving forward. Although the upcoming months are uncertain, we have made some difficult decisions, such as having to temporarily reduce our assortment offering for our upcoming season to ensure longevity for our business. In addition, we are finding that teaming up with other small businesses will allow us to lift each other up, be creative, and rebuild together.” Mark Kim, founder, Onyrmrk 

John Elliot of John Elliot.

John Elliott  Courtesy of John Elliott

Our factories, retail store, and offices are currently closed. For now, we’re focused on digital, both with our continued charity drive benefiting UCLA’s Health Fund, and with new editorial content offerings. We’re optimistic about the future, as we work through a holistic approach that will not only protect our business but also support our community. John Elliott, cofounder, John Elliott

Christopher Bevans of Dyne.

Christopher Bevans  Courtesy of Dyne

We at Dyne have been working with one of our factory partners that makes masks to dispense tens of thousands of masks around the world to those in need. Our business is predominantly an online business, but at this time we’re focused on helping those in need. Christopher Bevans, creative director, Dyne

Rob Cristofaro  Courtesy of Alife

During this time of the unknown, I feel that there will be a bunch of newness born, creatively, distribution/production- and humanitarian-wise. Regarding Alife specifically, we are planning to focus on our direct-to-consumer business with a newly revamped e-commerce site, staggering our FW20 assortment to release on a more appropriate schedule as well as planning a potential pivot away from Paris Fashion Week to some sort of digital experience. Rob Cristofaro, founder and chief creative officer, Alife

Keiser Clark of Keiser Clark.

Marc Keiser  Courtesy of Kaiser Clark

Right now, there is a lot of fear, a lot of panic, and with that, there is a tendency to act selfishly. So rather than hoard assets and put walls up around us, we’re taking the time to reach out to our retail partners, check in with them, their teams, their families and get creative together. We’re moving forward with leading with a “we all sink, or all rise together” sort of mentality. We’ve put together our internal imagery, product shots and descriptions, even offering to link directly to our web site, and turn our office into an external warehouse to assist our retail partners as they transition to focus heavily on online, especially those who have been forced to close their brick-and-mortar doors for an indefinite amount of time. Marc Keiser, cofounder, Keiser Clark

Jacky Clyman of Cockpit USA.

Jacky Clyman  Courtesy of Cockpit USa

We are putting our employees and our customers’ health first while remaining calm through the uncertainty, and continuing to create business as much as we can. Encouraging our customers to place orders with free shipping and sale incentives. As producers, we also have a responsibility to our suppliers. Our brand is fortunate to have orders coming in from our loyal Chinese customers, who seem to be moving forward from the effects of the COVID-19 virus. We’re working creatively on expanding our social media engagement and launching a new web site for cockpitusa.com. Our founder and my husband, Jeff Clyman, is currently working with local governments to possibly produce some of the urgent medical garment needs— we’re preparing our production team for whatever we can help with. The next few months are going to be hellish but, as we hope the virus fades, it’s important to remain positive and work towards reactivating business. As someone who is in the “high-risk” age group, I still feel the cure may be worse than the virus if we don’t act quickly and responsibly. Jacky Clyman, vice president, Cockpit USA 

Joey Gollish of Mr. Saturday.

Joey Gollish  Courtesy of Mr. Saturday

As a young designer in this complicated time, I’m really fortunate to have the support of retailers like Ssense, who just confirmed Mr. Saturday as a new brand for the AW20 season and believe in the future of what we’re doing. We’ve adjusted expectations, but simultaneously, I still want to support the stores who have supported us from Day One including 10 Corso Como, L’Eclaireur, and H. Lorenzo. As for the future? We’re continuing to work with our strategic partners at Hxouse and Rémy Martin to bring the world of Mr. Saturday to people in a new way, a way that better fits our current reality, and continue bringing product and experiences that mean something to our audience and customers. Joey Gollish, founder and designer, Mr. Saturday