Rebecca Minkoff has won FN’s Social Impact Award and will be honored Dec. 4 at the 2018 FN Achievement Awards (watch the livestream here). Below is an article from the magazine’s Dec. 3 print issue about how the designer uses her platform to empower women.
When an industry is as cutthroat as fashion, being a female designer and founder can be painfully isolating. So Rebecca Minkoff — the woman behind her namesake line of popular handbags and footwear — did something about it.
More than four years ago, she kicked off her “Superwomen” dinners, which brought together women from different industries to foster a supportive environment built
on camaraderie and friendship. “Our world in fashion is very competitive, very ‘Devil Wears Prada,’ and there wasn’t a place where women could help each other out. I needed an outlet for that,” Minkoff said.
The gatherings grew into fireside chats in her stores that delivered a night of inspiration and empowerment. And in September, Minkoff brought those meaningful conversations to her 1.9 million social media followers with the “Superwomen With Rebecca Minkoff” podcast, which spotlights a different woman every week. Guests have included Olympic medalist Ibtihaj Muhammad, supermodel Coco Rocha and Amirah Kassem of Flour Shop.
Those dialogues planted the seed for her recent campaign, “I Am Many,” which launched this fall during New York Fashion Week. It not only embodied what Minkoff and her label have come to represent, but it marked the beginning of a new brand identity.
“For a long time, women were marketed to as being one thing: ‘Be brave, be bold, be ambitious,’ but that doesn’t celebrate the many dimensions, roles or personalities of a woman,” Minkoff said. “My success is because of other women who have had my back, and people, now more than ever, want to be part of a tribe, so this campaign addresses both: There are many parts of you, and there are many of us.”
She cast a mix of entrepreneurs and activists to model the “I Am Many” merch and her fall ’18 designs (all of which were made available online). And to ensure the campaign gained momentum, she enlisted longtime supporters and celebrity friends — including Nikki Reed, Lauren Conrad, Sophia Bush, Emmy Rossum and more — to share photos of themselves in their “I Am Many” tees.
“I always want to support Rebecca, as she has been so incredibly supportive of me over the years; as I was gearing up to launch my company, Bayou With Love, Rebecca gave me advice in areas of the business I knew nothing about,” Reed said.
Conrad also found it easy to chip in. “The women in my life build each other up — they don’t compete; they collaborate,” she said. “I’m always so impressed by the way Rebecca uses her platform to encourage social change.”
What’s more, Minkoff partnered with IMG and women-driven nonprofits to launch the Female Founder Collective to build up women-led businesses and eventually establish a symbol (similar to the USDA’s organic foods mark) that indicates a product is from a female-owned company. In the three months since it launched, Minkoff says about 1,500 entrepreneurs have joined.
“Everyone wants to support women who are out there taking chances and starting their companies,” said Reed. “So what Rebecca is doing is helping to make it even more clear. I think it’s genius.”
Evidently, Minkoff’s consumers think so, too. “My consumer is embracing [this cause] because she knows it’s true to who I am, and it’s something I’ve advocated for a very long time,” said Minkoff. “In this climate, you can’t just be a designer; you have to find something you stand for, something that’s bigger than you and to use your voice to help areas in need.”
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