Off Brand is a thrice-monthly column that delves into trends in fashion and beauty.
WHEN THE REALITY of the pandemic hit California last March, jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth found herself in tears, walking along Venice Beach with her boyfriend. Like so many business owners, she was grappling with difficult decisions. Her eponymous company had just endured the loss of its most important vendor, Barneys New York, to bankruptcy. The impending shutdown, which would close her two Los Angeles stores, spelled further disaster for the fashion industry, particularly independent designers. She remembers thinking, “Our business is going to go down, we’re