From sofas and kitchens, music stars hold coronavirus concert fundraiser

Elton John’s “Living Room Concert” featured a star-studded lineup. (Instagram/@eltonjohn)
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Updated 30 March 2020

From sofas and kitchens, music stars hold coronavirus concert fundraiser

LOS ANGELES: Billie Eilish sang on her sofa, Elton John played a keyboard belonging to his children, and the Backstreet Boys sang in harmony from five locations as dozens of musicians put on a fundraiser for the warriors against a coronavirus.
Those who performed from their homes for the “IHeart Living Room Concert for America” also included Mariah Carey, Camila Cabello, Alicia Keys, Shawn Mendes and Sam Smith.

The one-hour show, broadcast on Fox television without commercials, was the biggest joint effort in the pandemic to lift spirits, raise money for those in the frontlines, and remind Americans to wash their hands and keep their distance.
“There’s doctors, nurses and scientists on the frontlines. They’re living proof that most superheroes don’t wear capes,” said John, who hosted the show from his kitchen.
“We hope this bit of entertainment can feed and fuel your souls.”

All the performances and appearances by celebrities ranging from comedian Ellen DeGeneres to R&B artist Lizzo and country singer Tim McGraw were filmed on phones, home cameras or online platforms.
The songs were interspersed with short personal stories from nurses, doctors, truckers, grocery staff, and other essential workers as millions of Americans entered a third week subjected to orders to stay home.
Dr. Elvis Francois, a surgeon from Rochester, Minnesota, stole hearts on social media with an emotional rendition of “Imagine” performed in medical scrubs.

“Did this doctor just out sing every artist that’s performed?” one viewer, Ender Wiggins, asked on Twitter.
The concert, also broadcast on iHeart radio stations nationwide, urged listeners to donate to charities Feeding America, and First Responders Children’s Foundation.
The amount raised was not immediately known, but more than $1 million was donated in the first 10 minutes, courtesy of $500,000 from household goods giant Procter & Gamble and a matching sum from Fox Television.

“My heart goes out to people who have lost loved ones and also those who are losing their jobs,” said Lady Gaga, clad in pink sweatpants and a hoodie.
Alicia Keys, singing “Rise Up,” Dave Grohl performing “My Hero,” and Billie Joe Armstrong’s acoustic version of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” spoke to the hardships of millions of those working or laid off as stores, restaurants, gyms and movie theaters have shut down.
“After we come out of this horrible thing, I hope we are nicer to each other, and fairer to one another,” John said.


Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

Updated 13 July 2020

Celebrity-loved brand By Far finds success in region amid pandemic

  • Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic
  • The accessories label has seen a surge in sales in the Middle East amid the health crisis

DUBAI: To say that the fashion industry has been negatively impacted by the coronavirus disease would be an understatement. But one brand that has managed to remain unscathed from the ongoing pandemic is Bulgaria-based accessories label By Far.

The A-list beloved brand, founded by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova in 2016, notes that it has actually seen a dramatic increase in sales in the Middle East during the crisis, exceeding pre-pandemic figures — in spite of all of the regulations put in place to slow the spread of the disease.

“Middle Eastern countries took harsh measures to control the outbreak, but it didn’t seem to weaken discretionary spending,” said the brand to Arab News, citing a massive rise in sales during April and May — the peak of the pandemic.

By Far was founded in 2016 by twin sisters Sabina Gyosheva and Valentina Bezuhanova, alongside their best friend Denitsa Bumbarova. Supplied

The brand credits the Muslim holidays of Ramadan and Eid for contributing to sales, revealing that the label’s “Tanya” shoes, as well as its “Mini” and “Miranda” bags, proved to be the best-sellers among their Arab clientele.

According to By Far, they witnessed a 400 percent increase in sales coming from the UAE and a whopping 800 percent increase in sales in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The figures are impressive, considering that retail sales plummeted worldwide, leading to closures of many fashion brands who failed to meet their targets.

The globally-recognized brand has been picked up by influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi. Supplied

The reason for the success, its founders believe, is that the brand has never relied on physical spaces. Buying activity has largely moved online due to retail spaces closing, and By Far has always been a digital brand with a massive online community.

The globally-recognized brand is sold in influential retailers like Ounass, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Moda Operandi in addition to its own e-commerce platform. Additionally, its Instagram account boasts a following of 371,000 users.

“In times like these, when we needed to support each other and stay connected more than ever, we really relied on our digital skills,”By Far told Arab News. “The situation definitely gave us a new perspective and we had the time to re-evaluate and re-structure some of our processes so that we can improve for the future.”

The Bulgaria-based accessories brand is extremely affordable and sustainable. Supplied

By Far even showcased its most recent Cruise 2020/2021 collection of shoes and bags via a virtual showroom. “We strongly believe that digital is a huge part of the future of fashion, and it is something that we will surely continue to develop,” the brand revealed.

At a time when sustainability and financial restraints are at the forefront of people’s minds, it also helps that By Far is extremely affordable and sustainable as far as luxury fashion goes. Every pair of shoes is priced between $200 and $600, and is created out of dead-stock fabrics (which helps keep the prices low) gathered from Italian factories.

“Sustainability has always been one of our top priorities in By Far. It has never been a question of whether we should do it or not. We have always tried to integrate sustainable practices as much as possible,” it said.

The brand has found fans in everyone from Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid to Beyonce and Selena Gomez. Supplied

The new collection includes playful pieces with colors custom-made in Tuscany. “We really had a very precise idea of what we want —cool lagoon blues, pomodoro red, grass green in combination with latte, khaki and matcha green hues to evoke calmness and a lightness of touch,” they explained. “We wanted to bring the collective spirit of optimism, joy and liberation with a euphoric palette.”

Chances are, you’ve already seen the chic new pieces on your favorite blogger or celebrity on Instagram. The brand’s designs have been sported by everyone from model Gigi Hadid to superstar Beyonce. As for who they would love to see wearing their creations next? “It would be a dream to see Queen Rania  (of Jordan) in By Far,” said the trio.

Perhaps she is one of the “fabulous Arab women” who inspired the brand’s forthcoming new collection, which is being specifically designed for this region.