AIDS BRACELET PROCEEDS HELP FUND REPORT
Byline: Carol Emert
WASHINGTON — The AIDS bracelet — a hot accessory in stores around the country for 2 1/2 years — was in the spotlight here Tuesday as the White House Office of National AIDS Policy released a report that was funded in part by bracelet sales.
The bracelets — a silver or gold cuff — are being marketed by the Until There’s a Cure Foundation, with profits going to combat the spread of the HIV virus. About $100,000 in bracelet proceeds was used to help fund the new report, a study of adolescent AIDS, addressing the need to reach young people about the danger of HIV.
To date, $116,000 in proceeds from sales of the bracelet have gone to grants for development of a vaccine against AIDS. An additional $758,888 has been disbursed through the National AIDS Fund to activities and organizations, including the New York and other AIDS walks, Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS, Catholic Charities HIV/AIDS, the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
A spokeswoman for Until There’s a Cure said the organization has additional money on hand that it is preparing to disburse. Additional proceeds are tied up in inventory, she said.
In all, more than 3 million bracelets have been sold. The Body Shop has sold more than any other retailer — 43,400 since it began carrying them in mid-1993 — said David W. Edward, chairman of the Body Shop’s U.S. division.
The bracelets sold by Body Shop earned about $850,000 for Until There’s a Cure, said Edward, who was interviewed after the press conference launching the new study.
Since August of 1993, a variety of other retailers have sold 105,000 bracelets, while the lion’s share has been marketed through other venues, mainly Until There’s a Cure’s toll-free telephone number.
The bracelets, which are made in Italy, retail for $20 in silverplate, $70 in sterling silver, and $500 in 18-karat gold. Manufacturing and overhead make up 66 percent of the retail cost; the remaining 34 percent goes to Until There’s a Cure, said Dana Cappiello, a California apparel-maker and co-founder of the charity.
Bloomingdale’s, which has been selling the sterling bracelets in all 16 stores since Dec. 1, has moved 453 units, said Jim Gundell, senior vice president and general merchandise manager for fashion accessories.
“We’ve had close to an 80-percent sell-through on the item, and we continue to reorder and sell it,” Gundell said in a telephone interview Tuesday. Both men and women are purchasing the bracelets, he said.
Macy’s West/Bullocks — which, like the Body Shop, began offering the items in the summer of 1993 — has sold more than 20,000 bracelets, said a Macy’s spokeswoman. The bracelets were sold in all 52 Macy’s/Bullock’s stores during a 1993 promotion but now are only in the Union Square Macy’s in San Francisco, she said.
Other retailers that have sold the bracelets include Carson Pirie Scott, Esprit, Fortunoff’s and Virgin Megastores. The silverplate bracelets comprise 88 percent of unit sales and the sterling ones make up 11 percent of sales. The gold bracelets comprise less than 1 percent of units sold, but about 9 percent of dollar sales, said Stasia A. Obremskey, executive director of Until There’s a Cure.
Cappiello, who runs her own maternity apparel company, Dax & Coe, Menlo Park, Calif., founded the charity after her best friend, Anthony Torrieri, a visual merchandising director for Macy’s, died of AIDS in 1992. A former men’s wear designer with Macy’s, Cappiello said she hopes young people will wear the bracelets to parties and remember the threat of AIDS.
Public service advertisements for the bracelet, featuring celebrities, have appeared or are slated to appear this year in a variety of magazines.
Until There’s a Cure hopes to sell another million bracelets in the next year, with the proceeds going primarily to a youth education group called Students Teaching Aids Responsibility (STAR), in which the first major element of the program is the new report. Retailers interested in carrying the bracelet can call 800-88-UNTIL.