This weekend, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, cities across the United States erupted with protests against systematic police aggression—portions of which damaged a number of businesses, including designer stores. After sitting dormant (and even boarded up) for nearly two months following the pandemic-mandated shutdown of nonessential businesses, major luxury retail thoroughfares, from New York’s Soho to Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive to Atlanta’s Phipps Plaza, are now covered in messages in support of Black Lives Matter and against the use of violent force by police. Many stores, both luxury and independent, have been looted, and left with windows smashed and merchandise stolen.
Designers and brands have spent the past four years trying to distinguish, with varying degrees of success, the difference between tepid support for social justice issues and true activism. The realities of looted stores and calls from consumers to speak