Bridget Foley’s Diary: The COVID-19 Impact — Amy Smilovic Invokes ‘Capitalism With Sensitivity’

Amy Smilovic has long been a standard-bearer of independent American fashion executives. She stealthily built her Tibi brand into a contemporary powerhouse with staying power, even after a dramatic shift in creative direction about a decade ago, from sweet girliness to a cleaner, more urbane look. In her two-plus decades in business, Smilovic had navigated major upheavals — 9/11 and the 2008-09 recession — without every laying off a single employee. That run ended last week, when fallout from the coronavirus pandemic forced her to terminate a full 30 percent of her 85-strong work force. It devastated her, and her goal is for the company to emerge from this crisis strong enough to bring those people back. “I believe in capitalism that has sensitivity to it,” Smilovic said.
WWD: This is all stunning, isn’t it?
Amy Smilovic: It’s stunning when you’re measuring time and minutes, when you can’t believe where your head was on Monday versus the previous Friday. It’s insane.
WWD: No one knows where it’s going.
A.S.: No one knows where it’s going. You are left to horrific imagination on how bad it could be. The health stories are devastating, when you read that hospitals are turning away people over 60 in countries

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