Yvette Nicole Brown and Sophia Bush

SUCCESS STORIES: Upping the stakes for its third collaboration with O, The Oprah Magazine to benefit Dress for Success, this time around Talbots will match cash donations up to $250,000.

This year’s launch date for O, The Oprah Magazine Collection for Talbots is Feb. 20 at retail and online. To help get the word out, the activist-leaning Connie Britton, Yvette Nicole Brown, Sophia Bush, Busy Philipps and Tanika Ray are on board as influencers. Talbots senior vice president of marketing Deb Cavanagh said, “We wanted to identify high-profile women of influence who truly cared about our cause and our mission.”

Supporters and shoppers have a few ways to get involved. Cash donations can be made in stores Feb. 20 through April 1. Talbots is also encouraging women to clean out their closets and will accept “nearly new” clothing and accessories in its 435 locations March 1 to 4. Consumers can also pitch in by purchasing items from the O, The Oprah Magazine Collection for Talbots collection. Thirty percent of net proceeds from those purchases will benefit Dress for Success, which helps women return to the workforce.

To date, the O-Talbots tie-up has raised more than $3 million in monetary contributions, collected 60,000 articles of clothing and subsequently helped to impact 60,000 women’s lives.

Cavanagh said, “Women have come together in an unprecedented way to stand beside each other and to stand for not just empowerment but ultimately supporting success. So this campaign really feels so well-timed to fit into the cultural focus and Oprah’s focus.”

The March issue of O magazine has two impact covers — one featuring Britton and the other with Brown and Bush. There is also a three-page spread touting the O, The Oprah Magazine Collection for Talbots. O’s creative director Adam Glassman said, “We wanted people who believed in Dress for Success and believed in our group mission between Talbots and Oprah even if they had their own affiliation with their own cause. We did this before the Time’s Up movement. Everything just felt like perfect timing actually.…The main thing is it’s feel-good product that brings joy into people’s life. By doing so, they’re helping other women.”

He approached the color palette and the concept with a buy-now-wear-now mentality that also transitions into spring and summer. Instead of more time-sensitive florals, there are red, white and blue styles including stripes, a touch of gingham, and a ladybug motif that “really reads like a polka dot,” Glassman said. “One day I was at Oprah’s house, sitting in one of her gardens and I started seeing all these ladybugs. I thought, ‘That’s a cute idea. They kind of look like polka dots.’ They are a symbol of hope and life and love — prosperity — and some cultures actually believe they’re about taking actions on your dreams. I thought how perfect is that for our connection for Dress for Success.”

For the annual style event and shopping party on March 3, Glassman and Gayle King will visit Talbots’ Madison Avenue store. The pair have a satellite media tour planned and are expected to appear on Rachael Ray’s show Feb. 13 to coincide with the March issue landing on newsstands. Revenue for the magazine brand is up 5.4 percent from January through the April issues and its audience has increased 5 percent in the past year, gaining nearly a half million readers for the magazine, according to a Hearst spokeswoman.

Talbots is also in growth mode. With its weeks-old stores in Palm Beach Gardens and Seal Beach up-and-running, the company is gearing up for June openings for stores in Preston Oaks, Tex., and Kenwood, Ohio. In the meantime, it’s true blue spirit can be found in the new collection. Cavanagh said, “The color palette, a deep navy, white and red, feels very appropriate this month going into the Olympics. And it’s just a really modern palette that you can wear with everything.”

And although Winfrey is “a fabulous woman who makes connections, speaks beautifully and understands the world, and really could have everyone’s arms come together from both sides, she’s not looking to be a politician,” Glassman said.

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