Organizers have pulled in roughly 125,000 pairs of shoes from more than 90 brands, the largest donation in the fundraising event’s 19-year history. “The industry really stepped up with donations this year, and we have a number of companies participating for the first time,” said FFANY President and CEO Joe Moore. “We are hopeful we can surpass the more than $3.3 million we raised at last year’s event.”
The annual gala, taking place on Oct. 22 at New York’s Waldorf Astoria, will open with a cocktail party, followed by a sit-down dinner and brief awards presentation. The program will pay tribute to the late philanthropist Evelyn Lauder, founder of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, who will be honored posthumously with the FFANY Jodi Fisher Humanitarian Award. Lauder’s personal experience with early-stage breast cancer in 1987 led her to create (together with friend and former Self editor Alexandra Penney) the pink ribbon, now recognized as the global symbol for the cause. Her foundation, established in 1993, funds nearly 200 scientists and researchers at medical institutions around the world.
“Although Evelyn is no longer with us, her spirit continues to inspire us all to do more for this cause,” Moore said. “She and her husband, Leonard Lauder, [who will accept the award on his wife’s behalf], have been tireless champions in the fight against breast cancer. Their incredible work will continue to benefit generations to come.” Designer Tory Burch will present the award.
Lord & Taylor will receive the Retailer of the Year award, presented by Vince Camuto. Accepting the award will be Liz Rodbell, EVP of merchandising for the New York-based department store.
Moore said Lord & Taylor is being recognized for its long history in the industry, as well as its recent efforts to revamp its Fifth Avenue flagship and modernize its image. “Lord & Taylor is America’s oldest department store, and over the past few years it has undergone a major renaissance,” he said. “The store’s growth and vitality are impressive, especially in these tough economic times.”
Throughout the evening, Shoes on Sale guests can shop for half-price footwear in the French-inspired salon area. According to Moore, between $60,000 and $90,000 in revenue is typically generated from the salon, which features a selection of higher-end styles not available through the QVC sale.
The event wraps up at 9 p.m. with “FFANY Club,” an after-party featuring drinks, dancing and a live performance by up-and-coming singer Natascha Bessez. “We introduced the after-party last year, and it was a huge success,” Moore said. “So we’re enlarging the dance floor and adding more seating to the lounge area.”
For the first time, live video footage from the gala, including the celebrity red-carpet arrivals, will appear on QVC’s popular “PM Style” show, hosted by Lisa Robertson. Mike George, CEO of QVC, said the idea is to build interest and excitement leading up to the Shoes on Sale broadcast, which will air two days later, on Oct. 24.
QVC kicked off promotion of the event on Oct. 1 with the launch of a dedicated area on its website, showcasing videos of breast cancer survivor stories, as well as a spot with Nicole Richie, this year’s Shoes on Sale spokeswoman. The company also ramped up its social media efforts, utilizing Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. “There is so much you can do across these platforms to not only generate interest in the event but also deepen the personal connection people feel with the broadcast by giving them opportunities to interact with one another and share their stories through social media,” George said.
QVC also is featuring a “Shoe of the Day” throughout October, as well as offering a special collection of shoes online that will not be available during the broadcast. In addition, the retailer has expanded its selection of shoes priced under $50 to attract a wider range of customers.
George said this year’s Shoes on Sale is expected to draw a record number of viewers, as the event continues to gain popularity. “It’s now one of our highest-viewed shows throughout the year — it just keeps growing,” he said. “Some of our customers even have Shoes on Sale viewing parties in their homes. Even if we did nothing to promote it, it would still be one of our most successful shows. People just love the combination of great shoes and a great cause.”
Looking ahead, Shoes on Sale will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, and Moore said his team is busy brainstorming plans for marking the milestone. “We want to step things up and do something special,” he said. “There will be a few surprises.”
By the Numbers
$38 million raised to date
$3.3 million raised in 2011
2.6 million breast cancer survivors in 2011*
229,060 estimated new cases in 2012**
125,000+ pairs of shoes donated this year
90,800 pairs of shoes sold in 2011
39,920 estimated deaths in 2012**
90+ brands donating
14 brands donating for first time
** National Cancer Institute