NEW YORK — This year marks the 15th anniversary of QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale,” the footwear industry’s annual campaign to stamp out breast cancer.
For FFANY, QVC and the many generous shoe donors, the occasion offers an opportunity to reflect on the event’s strides in raising awareness — and still-much-needed funds — for the fight against the deadly disease.
“We’re very proud of all we’ve accomplished,” said Joe Moore, president and CEO of FFANY, adding that Shoes on Sale is on track to surpass the $30 million fundraising mark this year.
Mike George, president and CEO of QVC, called the anniversary “an exciting milestone” and “a proud moment” for the industry. “It feels wonderful to be able to look back and reflect on all the good happening because of these donations,” George said. “It’s very rewarding to be involved in a cause that has made such a difference.”
This year’s benefit gala will take place Wednesday at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York, with a cocktail reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by a dinner and the awards ceremony.
Event organizers have lined up a star-studded program that includes an appearance by country star Reba McEntire, the face of this year’s Shoes on Sale ad campaign, and performance by acclaimed opera singer Ruth Ann Swenson.
As it steps up to raise money to fight breast cancer, the footwear industry will also once again pause to pay tribute to its best and brightest.
Saks Fifth Avenue, which has been garnering serious buzz with its splashy 10022-SHOE concept, will be honored as Retailer of the Year. Saks Inc. President and CMO Ron Frasch will accept the award on behalf of the company. His presenter’s name was not available at press time. “We wanted to recognize Saks for what they’ve done with their shoe salon,” FFANY’s Moore explained. “They really gave their high-end footwear business a shot in the arm.”
Tory Burch will be lauded as Designer of the Year. Pamela Fiori, editor-in-chief of Town & Country, will present the award. “We just felt it was her time,” said Moore, citing Burch’s red-hot footwear collection.
This year’s Journalism Excellence award will go to Harper’s Bazaar magazine, with editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey accepting. Her presenter’s name also was not available at press time.
Gala attendees will again have a chance to vie for a few awards of their own: The popular “Best in Shoes” competition returns, this year overseen by a judging panel composed of Michael Atmore, editorial director of Footwear News; Gretta Monahan, style expert and the new co-host of “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style”; and Carrie Ann Inaba, guest judge on “Dancing With the Stars.”
While the footwear industry celebrates in New York, millions of shoe lovers around the country will be able to join the party by tuning in to QVC’s live broadcast, hosted by Lisa Robertson from the Waldorf and Jane Treacy from the retailer’s studios in West Chester, Pa.
Woven throughout the broadcast will be personal stories of hope from breast cancer survivors, as well as commentary from doctors leading the medical community’s quest for a cure. “It helps give viewers an appreciation of why we’re doing this,” said QVC’s George.
This year, viewers can shop more than 100,000 half-price pairs of shoes, donated by nearly 100 brands. Shoes on Sale’s special benefactors, Nine West Footwear Corp. and Brown Shoe Co., each donated nearly 20,000 pairs toward that total. Among the brands participating for the first time are Corso Como, Robeez, Rebels, Jim Barnier, Finn Comfort and Unisa. “Each year, we see more and more interest from the industry,” Moore said. “It’s tough out there right now, but people are still stepping up with generous donations.”
With QVC’s Website becoming an increasingly important selling engine for Shoes on Sale, the retailer is making a record number of styles available for purchase online this year, including several exclusives.
Even though the economy is causing consumers to tighten their spending, George said he does not expect the situation to dampen the event. “I think shoppers will be out in full force as usual,” he said. “Our customers look forward to Shoes on Sale all year: They get a chance to buy fabulous footwear at half the price and support an important charity while doing it.”
To encourage consumers to spend, QVC for the first time will offer an easy-payment option for select styles. “This way, people can donate in installments,” George said.
Meanwhile, partygoers in New York can snap up their own deals in the exclusive Designer Salon, which will feature styles from such top names as Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino and Michael Kors.
Having sold more than 1 million pairs of shoes over the last 15 years in support of the breast cancer cause, the many dedicated supporters of Shoes on Sale certainly have a lot to celebrate. But, as Moore said, the real celebration will happen when Shoes on Sale can finally hang up its heels. “I look forward to the day when it’s over for good — because that will mean we’ve won the fight,” he said.