As the architect of footwear and handbag brand Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon was called many things: ambitious, driven and demanding. Nothing wrong with that — if you’re a man. Since launching her namesake brand 18 months ago, Mellon’s agenda has been centered on empowering women — and selling lots of shoes, naturally.
Every month, she launches a new marketing campaign designed to inspire women to harness their inner power at work and in life. Earlier this year, Mellon used the campaign to highlight the gender wage gap. Now, the subject is gold diggers, with a Next Gen spin on the pejorative term themed, “Dig Your Own Gold.”
Mellon unveiled last week a pop-up shop for her brand “alongside” Allen & Co.’s annual retreat for media and tech moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho, ending Tuesday, and often referred to as billionaire’s camp, noting that selling products on the actual grounds is prohibited, as if the billionaires would be offended by vendors hawking wares, finding it gauche.
What place could be better to float the idea of the modern gold digger than Sun Valley, especially, considering the theory that it takes one to know one. ”We wanted to spin the term [gold digger] on its head and give it a new definition,” Mellon said in a phone interview from the conference. “People here really liked it.”
Mellon declined to name attendees at the conference, another no-no, but according to reports, titans of business included Disney chief executive officer Robert Iger and Comcast’s Brian Roberts, Michael Bloomberg, Jeff Bezos, 20th Century Fox’s Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall, Diane Von Furstenberg and Barry Diller, and Alice + Olivia’s Stacey Bendet.
Nor would Mellon divulge the identities of the high-octane women at the cocktail party she threw to celebrate the pop-up. However, she was perfectly willing to promote the Instagrams of pop-up guests such as Gayle King, who wrote in a post, “Love @tamaramellon’s definition of a gold digger! Hmmm am i one of those? Swipe left for perfect gold digger shoe. Size 10-1/2 plz!”
“The new gold digger is a woman who mines information to build her own companies,” Mellon said, rejecting the traditional stereotype of a woman enters a relationship purely for financial gain. Designed to attract attention, like Mellon’s uber-sexy footwear, a visual for the “Dig Your Own Gold” campaign features a woman’s black leather-clad torso, a gold shovel between her impossibly long legs and wearing high-heeled sandals.
Mellon was accompanied to the retreat by Minty, her 16-year-old daughter with ex-husband Matthew Mellon, who in April died of an accidental overdose. She mused that Minty won’t have to worry about gender equality and labels such as gold digger.
“Minty’s generation is very engaged,” Mellon said. “They have a lot of compassion and are very empathetic and motivated to build better businesses. They’re thinking in new ways, for example, how to make them sustainable.
“Usually the kids organize sports at the conference,” Mellon said. “This year there was a huge request from the kids to attend the panels, and afterward, they had discussions about them.”
The “Dig Your Own Gold” campaign runs through the end of July. “My business model this time is very different,” Mellon said. “I tried buy-now-wear-now in 2013 and it morphed into the monthly drops.
“I relaunched with the drop 18 months ago,” she added. “It’s so interesting for me to read that Hedi Slimane [at Céline] is doing more frequent drops, and Burberry is having monthly or more frequent drops. With buy-now-wear-now, you’re still delivering a whole collection and it sits in the store for months.”