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Charlotte's fashion industry unites to give back to the community during COVID-19 crisis

The Fashion Forward coalition aims to support local stylists and shops while also giving back to the Charlotte community impacted by the virus.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte’s retail fashion industry is coming together for the greater good amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Whitley Adkins Hamlin, stylist for The Queen City Style and style editor for "SouthPark Magazine," came up with the idea for Fashion Forward as a way to help local stylists, shops, and designers while also giving back to the community.

Fashion Forward is a coalition to support and preserve the retail fashion industry in Charlotte. The website includes links to the websites and Instagram pages for stores, stylists, and designers. It promotes sales but it also shows how the businesses are helping others.

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Some stores and designers are offering a percentage of the sales to the charities or causes of their choice. RunningWorks, Second Harvest Food Bank, Crisis Assistance Ministry, and many others are listed on the website.  

Other businesses are doing unique giveaways. For example, Monkee's of Charlotte is offering the opportunity to nominate a health care worker who they feel should be awarded a $200 gift card to the store. That opportunity is given with each purchase made by phone, Instagram or online. Ole Mason Jar is offering a "Save The Wedding Giveaway" that includes a suit to be awarded to someone who has had their wedding displaced by COVID-19.

"It was just really wonderful to speak to everyone and hear, you know, hear them all say, 'I'm really hurting, yet I still want to do something,’” Hamlin said. 

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While restaurants have been able to survive on to-go orders, Hamlin is trying to bring attention to the ways the local fashion industry is creatively doing business in these challenging times.  

"What I think most people don't know, unless they have a close relationship with a store they normally do business with is, guess who else is offering takeout," Hamlin said.  

Hamlin added that many stores are offering free shipping, doing pick-ups outside their stores, or delivering items straight to customers’ doors.

“We want to, with Fashion Forward, educate our community and let them know ways that they can support the retail sector and get something fun for themselves at the same time,” she said.

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