American Marketer


Saks Fifth Avenue raises money for St. Jude through designer dress auction

January 6, 2012


Luxury department store chain Saks Fifth Avenue continued the spirit of holiday giving into the New Year by auctioning off looks from its New York Christmas window display to benefit charity.

Saks auctioned six of the one-of-a-kind designer dresses from its holiday windows through Saks has a history of charitable giving and this year’s holiday window auction benefited the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in New York.

“When we asked various designers to create one-of-a-kind looks for our famous holiday window display, we knew that the dresses would be too special to just make available for sale,” said Eleanor Banco, director of public relations and special events at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York.

“We thought that giving the public a chance to bid to own the dresses on would be the perfect way to make the dresses available to a wide group of people, even though only one of each dress was created,” she said.

“The designers agreed that the proceeds of the sales should benefit charity and be a way to give back during the holiday season.”

The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is a pediatric treatment and research facility that treats children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases.

Window shopping
The auction ended yesterday and raised approximately $8,000 for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Saks employed 10 luxury fashion brands to create one-off dresses for the themed windows.

The labels include Alexander McQueen, Nina Ricci, Proenza Schouler, Stella McCartney, Haider Ackermann, Naeem Khan, Rag & Bone, Olivier Theyskens, Marchesa and Erdem.

Saks included six of these dresses in the auction.

The Erdem dress was the highest-earning item at $1,900.

The full-length pink lace gown featured cap sleeves and Swarovski crystal embellishments. The estimated value was $5,000.

The dresses designed by Stella McCartney and Proenza Schouler brought in $1,750 each.

Stella McCartney’s A-line cocktail dress comprised sheer white tulle with iridescent polka dots and a high neckline. The estimated value was $5,000.

Proenza Schouler also designed a cocktail dress for the window display. The strapless dress is made of a custom blend of wool and silk jacquard in a gold-and-blue-hued pattern.

The estimated value of the Proenza Schouler dress was $7,350.

Additionally, Rag & Bone’s leather and silk full-length dress, which was estimated at $2,000, officially sold for $1,100.

Olivier Theyskens’ estimated $2,500 hand-made Italian silk and organza dress went for $950 and Nina Ricci’s embroidered cardigan with Swarovski stones sold for $650.

Creating buzz
Saks helped spread the word about the auction through its social media pages, particularly within the last week of the auction.

Additionally, the auction was featured on Charity Buzz’s homepage.

Visitors to the Saks flagship on New York’s Fifth Avenue were also alerted to the auction when they viewed the dress in the window display through text on the glass.

Indeed, last year’s holiday window display likely drew in a high number of viewers as it was the first time that Saks included a 3D component to its famed lightshow (see story).

Saks also leveraged the window to increase awareness for its mobile site through QR codes placed in the corner of the windows (see story).

The holiday charity auction to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is no surprise coming from Saks, since the department store chain often supports local charities and fundraisers.

Indeed, Saks is also a big supporter of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The retailer hosted its 13th annual Key to the Cure campaign last year that included a charity shopping weekend, a specially-designed T-shirt by U.S. designer Elie Tahari and a celebrity ambassador (see story).

Saks has donated more than $33 million dollars to various local and national breast cancer research funds since it started the Key to the Cure and the charity shopping weekend in 1999.

“Saks works very hard to support a wide range of charities,” Ms. Banco said. “It’s a part of the Saks DNA.

“For customers who know us, they may even be aware of some of the groups that we support," she said. "For others, we thought this would be a good way to let everyone know that we make helping a priority by giving back in many ways.

“We aim to stay aligned with groups we’ve faithfully supported as well as welcome the opportunity to work with new charities each year.”

Final Take
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York