American Marketer


Designers flock to the racks to help Japan

March 30, 2011


japan-sample-sale-185Brands such as Cynthia Rowley, Diane von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs, Prabal Gurung and Helmut Lang are taking their merchandise to the streets this weekend with a sample sale benefitting Japan victims with the Fashion Girls for Japan event in New York.

The two-day sale will take place April 2-3 at New York's Bowery Hotel on the Lower East Side. All proceeds will go toward Japan Society’s Japan Earthquake Relief Fund, the Red Cross and New York’s Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Fund.

"This initiative adds value to the luxury brands participating because it shows the sensitive side of the brands,” said Dalia Strum, founder of Dalia Inc., New York. “It emphasizes that they’re not just a business, but rather are deeply concerned about how this disaster is affecting Japan’s society.

“It personalizes their brand by offering their support to help their society recover from this disaster,” she said.

Fashion Girls for Japan was conceived by members of the Japanese-American fashion community after the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11. The organization could not respond by press deadline.

Sample of charity

The show consists of more than 80 apparel and accessories designers who have pledged to donate a rack of their clothes for the event.

All items donated will be discounted at least 50 percent off the retail price.

Fashion Girls for Japan will be held at the Bowery Terrace at the Bowery Hotel from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Tickets are available in advance for $5 at or can be bought at the door.

Consumers are also encouraged to donate to the cause through the Web site.

Fashion Girls for Japan’s Web site lists all participating designers and event information.

The event is being promoted through public relations outreach and by the brands via digital efforts.

Luxury brands are advertising their support and participation in the event in a few different ways.

Marc Jacobs, Cynthia Rowley, Prabal Gurung and Alexander Wang are featuring the event on their Facebook feeds.

Consumers can respond to the brands and use the links to find more information about the event.

Diane von Furstenberg has taken the next step and has pledged to donate 10 percent of online sales through April 8 to the relief efforts.

Coming together

There has already been an overwhelming display of support from luxury brands looking to aid those affected by the disasters in Japan.

Ralph Lauren and Tory Burch have designed T-shirts whose proceeds go towards the disaster relief (see story).

Other brands are helping via donations, offering their thoughts and condolences and partnering with organizations such as Red Cross to spread awareness and get help.

Brands are doing this not just because it is the right thing to do, but due to the fact that there is a close link.

Many luxury brands have stores and customers in Japan, and these disasters have affected their friends, families and colleagues. Also, Japanese visitors to Europe and North America are major buyers of luxury goods and services.

“For some fashion industry players, this disaster has hit closer to home,” Ms. Strum said. “Whether they are Japanese-American designers, buyers or executives or are connected in their society, this cause is closer to their heart and, more importantly, has established a desire to pitch in and help.

“Japan’s market has long embraced luxury goods, so by giving back to their economy and helping their society get back on their feet, this will establish stronger consumer loyalty,” she said. “It’s only natural to show appreciation towards a brand that has provided support during times of need to their consumers.”

Final Take

Rachel Lamb, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York