By  on July 14, 2005

NEW YORK — Seventh on Sale, the sample sale benefiting the fight against HIV and AIDS, is coming back after a 10-year break. But in a tell-tale sign of just how much things can change in a decade, it will take place as an online auction on eBay this November.

Founded in 1990 by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and put on in New York and San Francisco, as well as other cities over the next five years, 7th on Sale was one of the key events of the year and much-loved by fashion executives and shoppers alike. Stan Herman, CFDA's president, said he had been trying to find a way to resurrect the popular sample sale for at least three years and jumped at the chance to do it with eBay.

"Times have changed," he said. "We all felt there is a new model out there, and rather than replicate what we did 10 or 15 years ago, this offered a very seductive new way, and a test model for the future."

For the online auctioneer, it offers a way to strengthen its ties to fashion, which has been growing fast and is already among the top five selling categories.

"EBay's fashion business is booming, and we have been working on supporting the fashion industry and educating designers about the opportunities on eBay," said Constance White, the Internet company's style director. "It's been an ongoing effort for us to support the fashion community, and this fit very well into our strategy."

The online auction will take place Nov. 10–Dec. 7. EBay will partner with designers to manage the logistics of selling merchandise on the site and there will be a merchandising committee of key fashion executives to help designers pick suitable pieces for the sale.

"A big difference is really on the shopper's side," White said. "It was basically a local event the first few times. This time, this will not only be a national, but also an international, event."

EBay will heavily promote the auction on its site, which will also feature details on the benefiting charities and general information on AIDS. The sale will be kicked off with a black-tie gala on Nov. 10 at Skylight Studios here. Bergdorf Goodman's vice president of visual merchandise, Linda Fargo, is scheduled to design a special boutique at Skylight Studios that will offer designer items. In addition, eBay terminals will be scattered throughout the venue that night for gala guests to start bidding.In addition to the designer pieces, shoppers can go on eBay a week before the gala and bid on "Ultimate Fashion Adventures" made available by Vogue.

"If we can make the model on eBay and the party work, we can possibly do this every year or every other year, so that the organizations can start depending on the fashion community to start funding what is a very important cause," Herman said.

The sale is underwritten by eBay, Vogue, Kenneth Cole and Dolce & Gabbana (Vogue, like WWD, is owned by Advance Publications Inc.) Honorary chairs are eBay president and chief executive officer Meg Whitman, Anna Wintour, Cole and Domenico Dolce, and Stefano Gabbana. Co-chairs are Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan and Michael Kors.

Since its creation, 7th on Sale has donated more than $10 million to the fight against AIDS. This year, the CFDA-Vogue Initiative/New York City AIDS Fund will distribute the proceeds of the auction and the gala to AIDS education and prevention programs.

There's even some symbolism in CFDA's partnership with eBay. "The first 7th on Sale was 10 years ago and eBay is 10 years old," White said. "This wouldn't have been possible 10 years ago."

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