2020 was a challenging year in the global fashion and retail industries. Companies relying on brick-and mortar revenue were left without income for several months due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Moreover, lootings by organized crime using civil rights protests to their advantage were also detrimental to businesses, especially independent retailers without billion-dollar revenue streams or large insurance policies to protect them. Only a few independent retailers managed to survive 2020.
The Way We Wore is owned by Doris Raymond and is an absolute gem in Los Angeles. Their clients range from thrift-shoppers who love vintage pieces to high-end buyers looking for designer goods. L.A.’s stylists and costume designers love them as their go-to source for vintage items for photoshoots and movies. Despite their popularity, The Way We Wore suffered a difficult 2020. It was also heavily looted during 2020 George Floyd protests. Raymond was left wondering when she would be able open her shop again.
Raymond stated that my initial reaction to learning about COVID-19’s global pandemic was compassion. “I never imagined that we would find ourselves in such dire circumstances where we would need to close down for short periods. I’m an optimist and I knew that things would work out.”
Doris Raymond survived lootings and COVID-19 restrictions and is still winning in L.A.’s retail scene
Raymond’s worst hit in 2020 was not COVID-19 but the lootings during civil rights protests. Raymond stated that the night of looting was one of the most traumatizing nights in her 67 years of life. She received a call at 9:30 p.m. stating that windows had been broken. For the next three hours she continued to receive calls from the burglar alarm system letting her know which zones were being accessed. The looters took over 500 items.
Raymond stated, “While I recognize that I am a victim under these circumstances,” she said. “Looting was not the act of protesters. This was organized crime.”
Raymond was fortunate to be in this position. She had a substantial nest egg that she set aside, which she described as “tithing for herself”. This helped her keep her business afloat. Her most important lesson was to “Don’t spend all your money” after 2020.
Raymond relied heavily on brick-and-mortar sales prior to 2020. However, since reopening her shop after the looting, she has built her digital presence and has a renewed appreciation for ecommerce.
Raymond stated, “I’m a dinosaur and I’ve always resorted back to analog sales. Digital is something I have an increased appreciation for now, and I’m really getting on board the rest of 21st century.”
Customers were slow to return once Raymond had officially reopened. Although it took some time for them to realize that the store had reopened, they were eventually able to attract customers back using social media. They also had the windows of the store boarded up for several months. This was in fear of another looting.
Raymond, who is now back in business, says one of the major trends she sees for fashion, especially if she owns a vintage shop. It’s a return to minimalism.
She said that people are becoming more conscious of Mother Earth and are less fussy about their clothes. “I hope we don’t repeat the last roaring 20s, which was followed by a Great Depression. We are heading towards better times, I believe.”