American Marketer

Events/ Causes

Fendi hosts online charity auction to expand audience for London store

April 30, 2014

Fendi's New Bond Street store exterior Fendi's New Bond Street store exterior


Italian fashion house Fendi is celebrating the upcoming opening of its New Bond Street store in London with a charity auction of celebrity-designed handbags.

For Fendi’s Peekaboo Project, 10 personalities with ties to London designed personalized versions of its Peekaboo bag, which will be auctioned online on the brand’s Web site beginning May 1 to benefit Kids Company. Aligning with a local charity will allow Fendi to connect with its newest community.

"In celebration of the New Bond Street opening we wanted to do something truly special and also to connect with the British community and give back to them," said Silvia Venturini Fendi, accessories creative director at Fendi.

"We chose the Kids Company as we share many of the same values with them and their founder Camila, who we admire for her strength and philanthropy and whom we feel is representative of the like-minded Fendi woman," she said. "Furthermore, to make the opening truly special we came up with the idea of celebrating our Peekaboo handbag, which since its creation in 2008 has become an icon for Fendi and we were excited to work with so many strong, talented and influential women to create customized versions exploiting their own personal tastes.

"The 10 handbags created as a result are quite unique and we love each of the individual personalities they represent. They are truly a work of art."

Designing women
Ms. Fendi worked closely with the women, including actress Gwyneth Paltrow, singer Adele and Jerry Hall, and the house’s atelier to bring the women’s visions to life.

BBC Radio Four reporter Katie Adie took inspiration from British camouflage for her bag, placing it on the inside of the bag so it peeks out when the wearer unclasps the top of the bag.

Fendi Peekaboo Project bag

Katie Adie's Peekaboo design

Georgia-May Jagger had a photograph she took printed on her Peeakaboo, which was then covered in transparent sequins. The interior is purple python, a reference to Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

Ms. Paltrow’s is a refined white crocodile with black accents.

Fendi created two bags for each icon’s design. One will stay with the personality and the other will be auctioned.

Fendi announced its Peekaboo Project on social media and on its Fendi Life microsite. On its Instagram, it posted a short video showing the making of actress Naomie Harris’ butterfly studded bag featuring a silk-screened map of Africa.

Fendi Peekaboo Instagram

Instagram post from Fendi

On April 29, its Web site home page featured video footage of the making of the collection. A “discover” button takes consumers to the auction page, where they can learn more about the project, including the charity benefiting from the auction.

Kids Company is a London- and Bristol-based charity that helps inner city children through with educational and emotional support. One third of the children under 14 who go to the nonprofits centers sleep on the floor and 85 percent wouldn't eat in the evening if it were not for the organization's after school meals.

Fendi Peekaboo Project page

Fendi Peekaboo Project page

Fendi has provided a link for consumers to donate directly to the organization.

"We are absolutely delighted that Fendi chose to support the work of Kids Company with this wonderful auction," said Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company. "Fendi is a pioneering brand, an iconic and trendsetting leader in fashion. To be honest, only those who have money can afford their goods.

"The children of Kids Company come from some of the poorest ghetto environments of England," she said. "So, it’s a social miracle that the two worlds have come together.

"Through their compassion, Fendi are bridging the divide between the poor and the rich," she said. "Their kindness will mobilize resources to help children be reconnected to dignity and safety. We are so grateful to Fendi for their generous support and commitment to making a difference."

On Fendi Life, consumers can also browse images of all the bags.

Fendi Peekaboo Project 1

Fendi Peekaboo Project page

Fendi sent an email to its subscribers on April 29, telling them about the charity initiative.

After mentioning The Peekaboo Project in the subject line, Fendi listed all of its collaborators. Inside the email are tiles of images of select bags and creators, along with copy that tells the consumer about the auction.

On May 1 the auction will go live in collaboration with Sotheby’s. It will run until May 30.

"We wanted the auction to be open to everyone," Ms. Fendi said. "It's such an exciting project that it was important for it to exist online over the course of a month in order for its reach to go beyond those present just for the opening.

"The Peekaboo bags created by this amazing group of 10 women are so special and each very unique and we are happy to give back to the London community through the Kids Company and this project," she said.

The handbags will be on display from May 2 in the new flagship store. In the store windows, Peekaboo bags will be displayed in luxe vending machines.

Drawing on its accessories to open its London boutique, Fendi created a bag bug, or a furry purse charm, specifically for the store location (see story). Miss Tery is grey with orange eyelids.

Handbag travels
Fendi has previously used its iconic handbags to connect with consumers in various cultures.

For instance, the house added art appeal to its Munich store opening with a Baguette designed by Japanese painter Hiroshi Senju.

Mr. Senju is known for his large paintings of waterfalls, which ties into Fendi’s exhibition in Munich featuring photos of fountains in Rome taken by creative director Karl Lagerfeld. Having an exclusive art piece or item for a store opening helps a brand attract foot traffic, as consumers visit to see the one-of-a-kind work (see story).

Italian atelier Fendi also celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Selleria handbag line entering the Japanese market with a string of events throughout the country.

To kick off the celebration, Fendi hosted an event at Japanese department store Isetan where consumers could watch artisans make handbags in person and buy an exclusive yellow-colored bag. Being able to see the craftsmanship of the bags up close likely prompted consumers to buy (see story).

Fendi could make a strong impact with this campaign, especially for consumers whose values fit the cause.

"This charity initiative is a strong form of philanthropy to start off their new launch by giving back as opposed to worrying about their bottom line," said Dalia Strum, professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and founder of Dalia Inc., New York. "Kids Company is known for working with vulnerable and traumatized children in the UK that have been victims of child abuse and neglect, and this initiative supported by Fendi and the aligned celebrities could make quite a positive impact.

"By aligning it with the launch, these bags could create a stronger appeal from potential buyers as a form of participation in regards to giving back," she said. "The potential consumer of one of these bags could increase their purchase price if their interests and ideals align with the 'celebrity' who designed it.

"This could create a stronger appeal for the store opening along with their celebrity charity initiative as these products are limited edition with a strong meaning associated with them. The awareness that Fendi is creating through this initiative reaches their affluent consumers whom typically align themselves with their values, and brands with strong missions.

"Sentiments towards this strategy and the designers whom are participating allow their target market to sympathetically connect with the cause, which will make an impact on how they support Fendi and the aligned Celebrities moving forward."

Final Take
Sarah Jones, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York