Apparel Industry Contributes to Katrina Aid Efforts

As the damage estimates from hurricane Katrina creep past $25 billion, the apparel industry is wasting no time getting involved in the relief effort.

While relief organizations are not equipped to handle apparel donations yet, they do need money.

“What [the victims] need right now is cash,” said Roger Williams, president of Los Angeles–based Warnaco Swimwear Group. With that end in mind, the California Fashion Association (CFA), the Cooper Design Space and Warnaco Swimwear are organizing a sample sale to raise money. The sale will be open to the public.

“The exact date, time and location is yet to be announced,” said Ilse Metchek, CFA’s executive director.

Organizers said they hope to stock the sale exclusively with “best of brand” items from local manufacturers. All of the cash proceeds will be donated to a designated charity.

“Any member of the CFA or apparel manufacturer is welcome to participate,” Williams said.

MAGIC International took advantage of its recent MAGIC Marketplace to ask for monetary donations from attendees and exhibitors. American Red Cross booths at the show accepted donations. MAGIC also plans to organize a clothing drive and is asking exhibitors and attendees to participate.

Several Los Angeles boutiques are appealing to their customers and vendors. Lisa Kline, owner of the Lisa Kline boutiques, is donating 5 percent of every sale from her online store to Red Cross hurricane relief efforts. Fred Levine, owner of the M.Fredric boutiques, will redirect the company’s fund-raising efforts (normally reserved for breast cancer research) to the United Way’s Hurricane Katrina Response Fund. The company is asking customers and vendors for donations. M.Fredric will match 25 percent of every dollar collected.

The San Francisco–based Gap Foundation is donating $2 to the Red Cross for every $1 donated by its employees. The company is also preparing a monetary donation for the Red Cross.

Target Corp., based in Minneapolis, Minn., donated $1.5 million to the Red Cross, with $500,000 earmarked for immediate relief efforts. Columbus, Ohio–based Limited Brands donated $300,000, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. donated $1 million to both the Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

—Erin Barajas