Illustration for article titled Always on Trend: Fashion Nova and Cardi B Are Giving $1 Million to Individuals Affected by COVID-19
Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Now, this is what you call staying on-trend: Fast-fashion retailer Fashion Nova is well known for offering the looks of the moment, but on Wednesday, the brand’s uber-famous ambassador offered far more. Via Twitter, a robe-and-towel-clad Cardi B (rocking impressively matched and manicured talons) announced that in addition to their soldout fashion collaborations, she and the brand are teaming up to give $1 million to those affected by the coronavirus crisis, awarding $1,000 each hour for the next 42 days to those who demonstrate need.

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Cardi claims she’ll be confirming eligibility herself via applicants’ Instagram feeds, saying, “I’m gonna make sure you really do need it” (a dubious metric, considering how many false flexes already exist on the platform). She also thanks her fans and followers on behalf of the brand, expressing their joint desire to reciprocate the steadfast support their collaborations have received. “Don’t be shy, sometimes you gotta mothafuckin’ ask for help,” she says before launching into a timely (and surprisingly on-key) rendition of “Lean on Me” (Rest in Power, Bill Withers).

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Those in need can visit FashionNova.com/Cares to apply—and Cardi urges applicants to make sure their Instagram feeds remain open because again, she’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice before bestowing these gifts.

While this is admirable philanthropy in a time of desperate need—current reports estimate a 10 percent joblessness rate in the wake of the crisis—the first question that may come to mind for many is whether the hands that produce Fashion Nova’s cheap but chic fashions will be blessed with any of this bounty. Last December, a multi-year investigation of the brand by the United States Labor Department found that “Fashion Nova garments are stitched together by a workforce in the United States that is paid illegally low wages,” according to the New York Times, which also reported:

In investigations conducted from 2016 through this year, the department discovered Fashion Nova clothing being made in dozens of factories that owed $3.8 million in back wages to hundreds of workers, according to internal federal documents that summarized the findings and were reviewed by The New York Times.

Those factories, which are hired by middlemen to produce garments for fashion brands, paid their sewers as little as $2.77 an hour, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

At the time, Erica Meierhans, Fashion Nova’s general counsel, issued a statement to The Times claiming that “Any suggestion that Fashion Nova is responsible for underpaying anyone working on our brand is categorically false,” essentially implicating the subcontractors for creating and benefitting from what David Weil, former leader of the Labor Department’s wage and hour division called “all the advantages of a sweatshop system.” Meierhans went on to state that the brand met with the Department of Labor to discuss their “ongoing commitment to ensuring that all workers involved with the Fashion Nova brand are appropriately compensated for the work they do.” Yet, she maintained that with regard to the factories it subcontracts—which often have subcontractors of their own—it “is not responsible for how these vendors handle their payrolls.”

With that in mind, it’ll be interesting if any of the applicants hoping to be on the receiving end of Fashion Nova’s philanthropy might’ve also worked on the floors of the factories producing their wares. It shouldn’t take a pandemic, but it might be an excellent opportunity to cut out the middleman.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Nuance is her superpower.

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