Is Wal-Mart seen as more socially conscious than organic food retailer Whole Foods?
Apparently so for college students, who ranked Wal-Mart the year's second most socially conscious brand, ahead of Whole Foods, which ranked seventh. The world's largest retailer was topped only by Ben & Jerry's in a Harris Interactive poll conducted in April for Alloy Media + Marketing.
Wal-Mart's well-publicized efforts to reduce its packaging materials and operate on renewable energy apparently helped neutralize the barrage of bad press the chain received in the past year over issues such as alleged labor law violations and challenges to the unionization of its stores in the U.S. and overseas. Ironically, three-quarters of the 1,592 students surveyed for the 2007 Alloy College Explorer study cited "fair labor practices" as most important in determining a company's social responsibility. Two-thirds said "eco-friendly" methods were most significant, and nearly as many, 63 percent, cited charitable donations as characteristic of a corporate conscience.
"Moral reasons alone are enough," Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said of corporate efforts such as sustainability, but he also said the business can profit financially from such endeavors because it is supersized. For instance, the $345 billion retailer's new energy policies, now "pretty prevalent" in its 4,000 or so stores in the U.S., is enabling it to dim or turn off electric lighting in areas served by skylights, according to Simley.
Samantha Skey, Alloy's senior vice president of strategic marketing, acknowledged surprise that collegians credited Wal-Mart for being a socially conscious company. "They've had good press and bad press," she said. It has gotten some "scathing criticism" from students on FaceBook.com this summer and some kudos in the Alloy study for environmental initiatives, Skey noted.
Wal-Mart was one of four names new to Alloy's 2007 roster of socially aware brands, compared with 2006, a group that also included Target, which was rated fifth; Whole Foods, seventh, and Kashi, 10th. Five repeat appearances rounded out the list: Coca-Cola, placing third; Newman's Own, fourth; Yoplait, sixth; Burt's Bees, eighth, and Starbucks, ninth.
Up for grabs is $48 billion in discretionary spending among students ages 18 to 30, including $5.6 billion on apparel and shoes.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
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@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
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@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)