As for addressing the I_m silently judging your beer selection shirt Besides,I will do this racism baked into the fashion system, Metrick is hesitant to accept the 15% Pledge—an initiative started by Aurora James asking major stores to stock at least 15% of their total product from Black-owned businesses—but says Saks is working to incorporate more Black and POC-owned brands into the store. “What’s on the docket for Saks for sure is fostering, promoting, and building the fashion presence for underrepresented talent in our stores,” he says. “Rather than commit specifically [to the 15% Pledge], we are trying to figure out how we can make sure that this talent has the right level of support, that we’re engaging with it in the right way, and that we are making sure we are seeing new product and we’re bringing it in [to the store].” (It’s worth noting that the 15% Pledge offers exactly this kind of consulting and advice to its partners.) Metrick also points to new technologies that are streamlining the buying process, allowing for merchants to spend less time catering to existing brand partners and more time discovering and supporting new talent. “We’ve really modernized our buying approach,” he says, citing the store’s partnership with the virtual showroom NuOrder as a game changer for how its buys are made. The subscription service allows for a fully digital and multi-brand approach to buying—no longer do buyers have to keep independent offline documents to track orders. What in the past would have required a series of weeklong showroom appointments with endless follow-ups and data crunching can be sorted through the NuOrder system in a single day. “Because we’re going to be saving a lot of time with our core partners on NuOrder, we can go out and start figuring out how to connect with new and emerging talent, especially with underrepresented talent we have to go after,” Metrick says. Whether this results in a more diverse array of brands within Saks is yet to be seen, but if this idea is taken seriously, it is one small step forward. The reality is fashion cannot afford to go back to its status quo—not in the brands it supports and the voices it hears, and not in the way it sells and markets products. Whether Saks and other luxury department stores succeed moving forward will depend on how and when they address these issues. For now, it seems Saks Fifth Avenue has a lot of potential to make the positive changes the industry so desperately needs.
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The experience of dining, unfortunately, might not be as sexy as it once was,” admits Angie Mar, executive chef and owner of the I_m silently judging your beer selection shirt Besides,I will do this Beatrice Inn. She’s not just talking about her restaurant but all of the city’s restaurants: Starting June 22, they’re allowed to serve for outdoor dining as New York enters Phase 2 of reopening. It’s a step forward, sure, but it’s one into the gordian knot that is pandemic life, where everyone wants to get back to business…without causing things to get worse. (Six U.S. states have seen a record spikes in coronavirus cases since easing shutdown laws.) Maintaining that delicate balance requires some serious changes for both restaurants and their patrons. Here’s what to expect: At every eatery, waiters must now wear masks, all employees must undergo temperature checks, and tables will be six feet apart. Occupancy must be at less than 50%. Then there are sanitation measures: High-touch surfaces have to be cleaned again, again, and again. (Customers are not required to wear masks at the table, though the question of where to put one’s mask is still up for debate. Johns Hopkins recommends storing it in a clean place, which may warrant bringing your own mask-specific pouch—though some restaurants in Hong Kong have provided paper-bag pouches.) Many restaurants are also taking extra measures beyond city requirements to ensure the safety of their guests, their staff, and, well, society. Mar, for one, is looking at a touchless solution to menus, where you scan a barcode and the menu appears on your phone. She may implement time limits: In the olden days, one could languish at a table undisturbed for hours, but she needs to flip them for financial reasons when operating at such limited capacity. Mar also suspects that some restaurants will require diners to sign waivers consenting to contact tracing or absolving the restaurant of responsibility in case they contract COVID-19. “We live in a very litigious world, and I think that a lot of business owners are going to feel the need to protect themselves,” she says. Some are turning to technology to help. Resy, the online reservation app used by upscale restaurants around town, has launched several new in-platform services. With its capacity monitor, a restaurant can set a guest limit and get notifications when it’s close to reaching it. Once it does, Resy will automatically disable online reservations. They’ve also developed a mobile wait list: If a guest is in the neighborhood, they can join and get a notification if a table opens up. This, says Resy, can help with overcrowding outside host stands or bar areas.