As the coronavirus caused Los Angeles to slow down and Angelenos to work from home, Jared Ingold saw retail sales plummet by 95% overnight at his fashion store, Vardagen, on Abbot Kinney Avenue in Venice.
“It was the worst sales day in the three years we’ve had the store,” said Ingold, founder of the 14-year-old brand known for screen-printed T-shirts and sweatshirts. “We all had these fears of ‘Let’s not get sick.’ But economic concerns were hitting home. We still needed income.”
In less than a week, Ingold and his co-designer, Daniel Jewett, created a new collection to channel the mass anxiety around the virus. The new PNDMC collection, which launched this week, is also meant to help freelancers in creative fields who are now suddenly without work because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The 13-piece collection, which ranges from $15 to $85, comprises sweatshirts, T-shirts, pants, caps and socks, and a hand towel — all in black, white, pink or cream. The items feature drawings of various coronavirus possibilities including a man clutching rolls of toilet paper and a pair of hands covered in soap bubbles with the messaging, “Wash your hands, sinners.” Items are available at vdgn.com. (Hand sanitizer and logoed toilet paper are sold out on the retailer’s website.)
“We wanted to use art to communicate how we and others are responding to what’s going on around us,” Ingold said. “We are all going through this together.”
Ingold said the idea for the collection was partly inspired by what should have been a regular trip to the grocery store.
“It was eye-opening for me,” he said. “Everyone was panic-buying and loading up like crazy. We started to think about a way to ride this out as a brand. But I knew that even if we could, it couldn’t be just for us. We had to use this as a way to help other people.”
Ingold said he was hearing from friends in creative fields — freelance photographers, videographers, illustrators, musicians and designers — that they were going to have trouble making ends meet.
Therefore, 20% of sales from the collection will be divided equally among the first 10 creatives he heard from. Ingold was hoping to be able to allot $2,500 toward this group over the first few days of the launch. As sales grow, he said he will add others to his list.
Ingold said he also hopes the way Vardagen has responded to the current global health crisis will inspire people in other fields to do something similar to help those in need.
“When things get tough, work hard and keep creating,” he said. “That’s really motivational for us. None of us want to be alone and depressed. So if now all your jobs are canceled, dig in and get to the things you’ve always wanted to but never had the time.”
The brand can be reached on Instagram at @vdgn.