In the wake of last week's shocking news that Gen Art would be closing down, another bomb has now dropped on the fashion communities of Chicago and New York. Designers from both fashion capitals are coming forth saying they've been cheated out of money by the organization designed to support them. Gen Art was reportedly cashing checks and charging credit cards from the up-and-coming design community in the weeks and even days before announcing that they were broke. “They had to know about this for a long time,” said designer
Kate Coxworth of Kate Boggiano, who paid $550 for booth space for Shop CHICago scheduled for this week. “My booth fee was cashed on
April 22. It’s not like it was months ago. They used our money to float
their company for another few weeks.”
And as hard as it may be to admit, its starting to sound like it may all be true since over 20 Chicago designers alone have come out saying that they've lost money after ponying up the dough to participate in the city's biannual shopping event, Shop CHICago. Coxworth noted that the event's application claimed the designers would be refunded if Shop Chicago was canceled, yet the representatives from Gen Art have yet to return any emails or calls. Gen Art founders Ian and Stefan Gerard have become conveniently MIA in the days since announcing their close on May 5. When asked by WWD why they chose to cash the designer's checks with the knowledge that they would be closing, Ian Gerard said, "We needed to appear to the outside world and investors that Gen Art
continued to be strong and a viable company for investment,” he said.
“If we had started canceling programs and not accepting revenues, we
would seal the fate of the company and surely go under." Gerard added that he had no intention of of “milking money” from designers.
But the designers aren't quite ready to forgive, especially since the organization was constantly pressuring participation in their events. Veronica Martens, a Chicago jewelry designer, posted online earlier
this month that after receiving e-mails and phone calls, “I finally
caved in and decided to give it a try,” noting Gen Art cashed her check
on April 28.“They obviously knew when they cashed my check
that they were closing the doors on the business, and it makes me sick
to think that they stole money from me and my fellow indie designers
who are already struggling to make ends meet,” Martens said. Gerard, however, is claiming otherwise. “As soon as we knew that our final deals were not going to materialize,
we immediately closed down all receipt of revenues (including ticket
sales, membership sales and booth sales),” adding he
believed that took place on April 30.
So will this latest development taint Gen Art's 16 year legacy of supporting fashion, art and film? For these jilted Chicago designers at least, the honeymoon may be over forever.
Article Source: WWD
Photo Source: Chicago Fashion Resource