NEW YORK — The fashion community has come together with the forcefulness of a family of lions for a charitable cause.
Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America are spearheading the return of 7th on Sale after a 10-year hiatus. This year’s initiative will be twofold, consisting of a black-tie fund-raising gala dinner and sale at Skylight Studios here to kick off the initiative on Nov. 10, and an online sale on eBay, to take place Nov. 10-Dec. 7. The proceeds will benefit the CFDA/Vogue Initiative.
By the end of the gala, almost 500 volunteers culled from the fashion community will have helped put 7th on Sale back on the map. So far, the fashion industry has donated more than 10,000 items, of which 60 percent will be offered on eBay and 40 percent at the gala. The aim is to raise $3 million for the fight against AIDS.
Seventh on Sale Online is being sponsored by Vogue and the CFDA, as well as Polo Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Kenneth Cole Productions and eBay.
Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour was a key figure in organizing the original 7th on Sale, which was founded in 1990, and was instrumental in resurrecting it this time. She recalled the groundbreaking nature of 7th on Sale’s initial five-year run.
“It was the first time the fashion community really came together in such a big way to support raising funds and trying to help people with AIDS,” Wintour said. “It was just a very magical event that I was honored to be part of. I think all of us have felt bad over the years [that it was no longer being held]. We have done things separately for AIDS….It’s been a long time since the fashion community came together and really revisited the problem.”
Each sponsor has taken on a specific role to make sure this year’s gala will run as smoothly as possible. Vogue and the CFDA collaborated on creating the goals and served as the core base to coordinate the needs of volunteers and the event’s execution, while also drumming up support and donations from fashion houses.
Julie Mannion, president of creative service at KCD, which has been consulting on the initiative and managing the production of the gala, said, “If there is a challenge, it’s bringing together that work power and making it efficient and not cumbersome for everybody to be part of it. All of the teams merged together to make it seamless.”
Vogue, for instance, has created an advertising campaign that revolves around the tag line “Shop Till AIDS Drops.” The ads can be seen in Vogue, Teen Vogue, GQ, The New Yorker, House & Garden and Vanity Fair (all of which are published by Condé Nast Publications, parent firm of WWD). Vogue staffers also have contributed to the gala, from masterminding the night to working with Bergdorf Goodman’s senior vice president of fashion, Robert Burke, on vetting the donated merchandise to helping design the gala invitations with Ruben Toledo.
The gala will be run by an impressive conglomerate of fashion executives who have been collaborating for the past few months.
“It’s just amazing that everyone has been so generous, and so kind,” Wintour said. “Ralph Lauren and his whole team have been absolutely incredible. They are really shouldering so much of the work. He was one of our biggest supporters right from the beginning, so I think a lot of kudos go to Ralph for being such a leader.”
Polo Ralph Lauren employees from the creative, philanthropy and public relations departments and its retail stores have worked on this project since the summer. The company’s creative presentation and product presentation teams have worked together with Bergdorf Goodman and KCD to create an opulent, mostly white retail concept, which will resemble an enchanted winter forest. That night, Skylight Studios also will feel like an upscale department store, replete with nine boutiques arranged by categories such as women’s wear, men’s wear, evening, accessories, home and giftware, children’s wear, cashmere and resort.
“Basically, for one night, Ralph’s people are creating an absolutely magical environment,” Wintour said.
Lauren also has donated nearly 700 items in total, with many contributions from the current fall season.
“I am excited about the return of 7th on Sale and Polo Ralph Lauren’s leadership role in support of the fight against HIV/AIDS,” Lauren said. “I am proud we will be a part of this amazing event. Its success will continue to support this important effort.”
The staff that night also resembles that of a department store, and includes store and visual merchandisers, salespeople and cashiers.
Kenneth Cole Productions, meanwhile, took on a logistical role for the gala, receiving all the goods and warehousing them in its Secaucus, N.J., warehouse. There, volunteers from KCP have been unpacking thousands of boxes and getting items prepped and ready for the merchandising and visual committee to come in and begin the visual part of it, before trucking them to Skylight Studios.
“We are still receiving boxes,” said Lori Wagner, senior vice president of marketing and advertising at Kenneth Cole Productions. “So many in the design community have been extremely generous with beautiful products and furniture.”
The merchandising process will be completed by Oct. 31, after which the visual committee is scheduled to go to Secaucus to set up a mock store inside the warehouse. KCP also is supplying back-of-the-house aid for the gala, helping with the registers and wrapping the sold merchandise, while guests dine. The company created 3,000 white velvet flock hangers for the gala, 3,000 three-part receipts, 11,000 price tags, 5,000 shopping bags with the 7th on Sale logo and 1,000 garment bags. Cole also created 7th on Sale’s official T-shirt, which will be sold on eBay for $25.
Dolce & Gabbana, meanwhile, recruited many of the volunteers for the gala and spearheaded the outreach for additional volunteers to set up and sell at the gala. It also solicited donations from European designers.
“This has been a wonderful experience working side by side with other companies for such a great cause,” said Gabriella Forte, the former U.S. president of Dolce & Gabbana who is involved in the initiative on behalf of the Italian company.
CFDA’s responsibility was more focused on the online auction, ensuring coordination between the sponsors, Vogue and eBay, and “to make sure there is enough merchandise so we can make enough money,” said Stan Herman, CFDA’s president.
“They have been incredible sponsors,” Wintour said of the overall effort. “We’re thrilled to be working with eBay, which takes the event in a new and more modern direction. Kenneth has been a huge AIDS supporter for so many years, and obviously, now has his new role at AmFAR [as chairman of the board of trustees]. He has helped so much with the warehousing. Then we have Dolce & Gabbana, who again has done a lot for AIDS. In Europe, they have really been spearheading the committee to get the European designers to donate, and have come through in spades.”
Wintour didn’t hesitate when asked what she hoped the results of all the efforts will be: awareness.
“A lot of people we know now understand what AIDS is and the amount of people with AIDS in New York is much less compared to 10 years ago,” she said. “Unfortunately, this is not the case among the poorer communities, and it’s certainly not the case when you look at how AIDS is affecting continents like Africa and India. It’s a real feeling on the part of the fashion community that they want to reenter the arena and make sure that everybody here realizes that this is, unfortunately, not a disease that has gone away.”