The fashion-influencer-turned-entrepreneur, who has 2.5 million followers on Instagram, has partnered with the 14,000-square-foot retail space on Manhattan’s Bond Street for a curated market featuring some of her favorite indie brands. Seventeen brands to be exact, a combination of fashion, beauty and design, all small businesses.
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“They’re all brands that we know and love,” Bernstein told WWD. “We’ve talked to their founders; we’ve gone through and worn, or personally touched, all the products. My team and I hand-selected every single piece that will be going into the store.
“The purpose of it was to help small businesses by giving them their first retail space,” she continued. “Obviously we couldn’t have every sku from every brand in the store. But, we want to showcase as much product as possible from these brands.”
The Showfields exhibit is a partnership with WeGaveWhat, the charitable arm of Bernstein’s WeWoreWhat brand.
“When COVID-19 hit, I felt this newfound sense of responsibility to use my platform to help small businesses and organizations,” Bernstein explained. “An outpouring of small businesses started reaching out to me, saying they were struggling. I started working with them to really hear their stories and what they needed and then tell those stories to my followers to help expose them to a larger audience.
“All of this was happening and I needed a platform to extend past what I could do as a single person,” she explained regarding the decision to launch WeGaveWhat. “It’s really the middleman to connect these small businesses and organizations that are doing such an amazing job and don’t have exposure to the larger audience that I and my influencer friends do.”
To date, WeGaveWhat has raised more $200,000 for a variety of charities, Bernstein said.
Bernstein’s curated Showfields’ shop opens Nov. 14. Shoppers can browse labels such as Billie Simone jewelry, ready-to-wear brand Chimmi, accessories label Macksime, apparel brand Club Casual, beauty company Gilded Body and ceramics firm Franca, among others. The brands will remain on display until Feb. 15, or until inventory runs out.
But the influencer said her hope is that a new round of indie brands will be featured at a later date. Small businesses interested in being included in the Bernstein x Showfields market can reach out to Bernstein directly on Instagram or through wegavewhat.org.
“We’re going to try to give this platform to as many people as we can,” Bernstein said. “The entire point of WeGaveWhat is to continue to give back past the pandemic.”
Bernstein, a native New Yorker, began her career more than 10 years ago as a fashion influencer. She had several successful collaborations with names like Joe’s Jeans and Onia swimwear before launching her own brand, WeWoreWhat. In February, the designer introduced a rtw capsule collection sold exclusively at Macy’s. Then, in August, she launched an activewear collection that sold out within minutes online.
The endeavor with Showfields comes amid a slew of negative headlines accusing Bernstein of copying designs from indie brands, including Brooklyn-based lingerie firm The Great Eros. Bernstein not only denied all allegations, but — along with swimwear brand Onia — filed a declaratory judgment for noninfringement against The Great Eros earlier this month.
“We were threatened with a lawsuit first. Our response was the declaratory judgment, which is basically just asking the courts, ‘hey, can you make a decision?’” Bernstein said. “We don’t want to harm The Great Eros. We have offered, you know, a settlement to drop the lawsuit.
“It’s definitely tough remaining positive amongst all these negative headlines and false accusations that have emerged over the past few months,” Bernstein continued. “But I stand by my original designs. I issued public statements and evidence that debunks everything that has been thrown my way. And throughout all this, the trials and tribulations of being a public figure with a growing platform, I’m still human. And I’ve taken a lot of time for self-reflection and growth.
“Now more than ever, I just feel that it’s important to utilize my platform to give back and help people,” Bernstein said. “I, too, have been a small business and I want to use the platform that I built over the last 10 years to help as many people as possible. And there’s no shortage of people who need help right now.”