As Worth celebrates its 25 anniversary this year, it’s not shouting about sales or other financial metrics. Yes, the company is approaching the $100 million revenue mark, but Worth is putting its money where its conscience is and taking a stand against the objectification of women.
The issue resonates with Worth’s 1,000-plus sales associates — who are called stylists — and consumers.
“We as a company are about more than just beautiful clothing,” said Britany Larsen, vice president of marketing. “We support Madonna’s mission to empower women in advertising.”
Larsen was referring to Madonna Badger of Badger & Winters, who in January launched the viral video campaign, #WomenNotObjects” to protest the objectification of women in advertising, and whom Worth hired to produce an ad campaign.
Worth, a direct-to-consumer luxury fashion brand, sells the majority of its apparel, accessories and footwear in people’s homes.
Stylists speak the same language as their clients because they live in their communities and attend the same social functions. Worth customers have an estimated household income of more than $200,000 annually, the company said.
“Our messages are always for the stylists,” Larsen said. “On the consumer-facing side, we tell the story of Worth and get people interested in having luxury fashion shown to them privately.”
“The story of Worth is amazing,” Badger said. “For this very incredible milestone, we wanted to highlight the ideas of mentorship and the importance of having someone who believes in you and empowers you. That’s the Worth business model in so many ways.”
Launching July 6, the ad campaign includes a brochure and five videos on topics such as mentor/mentee relationships; advice for your younger self; on owning your own business; a community of women and the bonds between the women of Worth, and stylists’ insights on life, love and Worth.
The brochure features Worth executives and stylists wearing pieces from the fall 2016 collection with inspirational messages accompanying the portraits.
“After Madonna revealed the campaign to our stylists earlier this month, we have received such an overwhelmingly positive response that they cannot wait to share this message with their clients.”
“The most powerful thing a woman can have is a strong group of women friends,” is the quote from Caroline Davis, cofounder of Worth.
In the double-page spread, Davis is pictured with her daughter, Lucy Davis Haynes, a Worth stylist in New York, and granddaughter, Carrie Davis Haynes, who is a student. “I have learned from my grandmother how to be unapologetically confident and proud of yourself,” Carrie is quoted as saying.
Once again, models Elaine Irwin and Amanda Nordgaard appear in the campaign. “Elaine is someone who has been a model for 25 to 30 years,” Badger said. “She’s an entrepreneur, she has her own store, she’s a mom and she has a big job, which is being a model.”
Irwin’s message reads, “When someone believes in you, it’s like a wind in your sail setting you off in the right direction.”
Badger points out that Nordgaard is equally accomplished. “The other young [model] is Danish,” she said. “In addition to being a model, she’s also an artist, author and ballerina.”
The ad campaign, Badger said, “became a way for us to bring to life the fact that we’re a brand of so many great women and so many great generations of women.”
One of the viral videos, asks Worth women to advise their younger selves with the advantage of 20/20 vision.
Kelly Collins, president of Worth, said, “I would probably tell her to do what you love.”
“Dream more and worry less,” said Wendy Selig-Prieb, Worth board member. Lucy Davis Haynes said, “Be grateful. Be kind.”
Worth New York showroom director, Terry Borden, said, “Take risks. There is no game in life if you don’t take a chance.”
Irwin advises, “Pick your battles and choose the things that are really important to you.”
“Discover your passion and then pursue it with unabashed courage,” Selig-Prieb said.
Web traffic is up in triple digits, Larsen said, adding that e-commerce is still a small part of the overall business.
The message of the campaign, which is that the Worth woman lives life on her own terms and doesn’t want to be boxed into a corporate job.
“The majority of Worth stylists are stay-at-home-moms with a desire to get back to work,” Larsen said. “Some stylists have had successful careers. A top stylist in Atlanta was a prominent lawyer and a stylist in New York left a high-powered career in banking.”
Worth, which unveiled consumer-facing showrooms at the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan last year, has no plans to open stores any time soon.
“We’re happy about how the showroom model is growing and we’re expanding it across the country,” Larsen said. “We’re launching a new online training tool. We created a Worth University. Stylists go through a very rigorous training program that gives the women all the tools they need to start their own businesses. This is exactly what Millennial mothers and young Gen X mothers want — a job where they set their own hours.”
Worth is getting more active in social media as well as releasing a short YouTube film. The company also publishes catalogues. “The photographs on our web site are beautiful and so luxurious,” Larsen said. “In looking at traffic through the web site, it’s overwhelmingly new visitors in the 25- to 45-year-old range. We’re recruiting younger stylists into the brand. This campaign brings in a new potential customer and new potential stylists.”