Carly Cushnie has announced the closure of her namesake label, Cushnie, a victim of the financial hardships of the current pandemic. The New York City-based line spent its first decade as Cushnie et Ochs, co-founded by her Parsons classmate Michelle Ochs. The two were inseparable at events throughout the city for years and were a staple on the NYFW calendar. Ochs surprised the fashion world when she and chief executive officer Peter Arnold departed the line in 2018 for unknown reasons. Cushnie changed the name of the brand and became both creative director and chief executive. Ochs sued the company in June, claiming she hadn’t been paid part of a settlement owed to her. The New York Times reports Cushnie LLC was ordered to pay Ochs more than $380,000 in August after failing to respond to the lawsuit.
In an open letter sent last night, Cushnie highlighted her accomplishments with the brand and her pride in being an example to young women of color.
Here is her full note:
Over the last twelve years, the Cushnie collection has come to define a modern elegance that celebrates the female body with a timeless ease – striking a balance between minimal and sensual. There has been nothing more rewarding than making women feel confident, sexy and empowered through my collections.
As many designers have experienced, the fashion and retail landscape has become increasingly challenging over the years. While my brand has persevered through unending headwinds, the effects of Covid-19 have hurt my business beyond repair, and it is with great sadness that I share Cushnie will be closing its doors.
The journey of building my brand has been incredible. Cushnie became an immediate mainstay of New York Fashion Week. The brand is sold at the best retailers around the world and has built an amazing community of loyal customers. I have had the honor of dressing the most inspiring women, from Michelle Obama to Beyoncé. I was appointed to the Board of Directors of the CFDA and participated in the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund. I became one of the first Black female designers to launch a successful collaboration with Target.
While there are many achievements I am so proud of, it would be neglectful not to acknowledge having to fight much harder than my male peers to be afforded the same opportunities. One of the great ironies of the fashion industry is that while it caters to and profits from women, it has never felt like an industry that supports them. This is especially true for women of color.
The desire to set an example for young women of color has always been a driving force in my career, and I am confident and hopeful that the distance I have traveled will help to pave the way for the next generation of diverse talent. As one of the few Black female designers to achieve this level of success, I am both humbled and empowered by the undeniable mark that I have made.
While this past year has been challenging, it has allowed me the time to reflect, reset and realign my goals and my passion for design has never been stronger. I recognize the power of my presence and will continue to fight for the causes and values I believe in, and will always continue to create.
To everyone who has given their time and talent to Cushnie over the years, I am eternally grateful to you. I close this chapter of my journey certain that it will not be the last, and I look forward to embarking on what’s to come.