In the fight against sexual violence, Guess Inc. wants to make a lot of noise — and raise money.
On Wednesday, for the second year in a row, the Los Angeles-based denim company hosted a rally at its downtown headquarters to promote Denim Day with non-profit organization Peace Over Violence. Along with hundreds of employees, company cofounders Maurice and Paul Marciano welcomed singers Aloe Blacc and Maya Jupiter, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Police Chief Charlie Beck, District Attorney Jackie Lacey and other guests who wore jeans in a sign of solidarity with the survivors of sexual assault.
The Guess Foundation pledged to donate $2 for every pair of jeans and certain accessories sold at Guess, Guess Factory and G by Guess stores from April 20 to 29. It also added all its Marciano-branded stores and retail units in Europe to this year’s fund-raising drive.
As a result, Guess chief executive officer Paul Marciano estimated that the foundation raised $250,000 this year, or more than double the $100,000 it raised last year. Next year, he aims to increase the philanthropic contributions to $500,000.
Renowned for its coterie of Guess Girls, including Claudia Schiffer, Drew Barrymore and Gigi Hadid, Guess projects an image of “sexy but confident” women, Marciano told the standing-room only crowd. Still, he cautioned that “sexy is never, ever an invitation or excuse for rape or violence.” To convey that message, Guess ran public service ads promoting Denim Day in 7 million copies of magazines in the U.S. this month, generating 46.5 million media impressions. “We’ve got a lot of pull,” he said.
Guess is also taking the show on the road to Italy, which inspired the event’s inauguration in 1999 after an Italian court overturned a rape conviction because the judges felt that, because the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans and thereby given consent. On May 21, Guess will host an event for more than 300 celebrities, models, journalists and influencers in Milan. Eight days later, it will hold another Denim Day event in the city, where the speakers will include Gilles Bariguian, director general of Guess’ European subsidiary; Patti Giggans, executive director of Peace Over Violence and founder of Denim Day; Antonella Antonelli, founder of The Circle Italia, and Titti Carrano, president of D.i.Re, or Women’s Network Against Violence.
“In Italy, it’s still kind of a taboo subject,” Marciano said. “We’re not OK with that. We want to make a lot of noise.”