For 28 years, the footwear industry has united each fall to help support the fight against breast cancer, by raising much-needed funds for research and medical support. And in 2021, organizers have said they are determined to continue the effort, despite steep headwinds from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including supply chain disruptions.
The Fashion Footwear Charitable Foundation of New York (FFCF) announced that its annual “FFANY Shoes on Sale” fundraiser will once again be held in collaboration with longtime partner QVC Inc. The retailer is slated to air its broadcast on multiple platforms on Oct. 12 at 5 p.m. ET, with additional activations planned on QVC’s online and social platforms.
Traditionally, FFCF also hosts a celebrity-studded black-tie gala and shoe sale in New York to celebrate the occasion. However, the in-person event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 health concerns, and John Heron, president of FFCF, said there will be no gala in 2021 — and the organization is weighing whether it will return in future years.
He noted that by eliminating the costs of the gala, FFCF was able to donate $1 million — or 95% of its raised funds — to its beneficiaries, which included Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Penn Medicine Abramson Cancer Center, Cedars Sinai, Siteman Cancer Center and more.
Heron applauded QVC and the larger shoe industry for their stalwart commitment to the breast cancer cause, despite dealing with some the most challenging business conditions in recent memory. “The footwear industry has showed true resilience,” he told FN. “With all that they faced last year, it would’ve been really easy to say no, but a lot of companies gave product and continued to support us.”
Heron acknowledged that shoe donations were significantly lower in 2020 due to a range of issues related to the pandemic, and there is concern that the current supply chain issues — coupled with heightened consumer demand — could dampen donation levels once again.
“We hope and anticipate that footwear companies will once again pledge with the solidarity that has defined our industry by donating their products to fuel our efforts and our cause in 2021,” said Heron.
And to ensure that FFCF continues to prosper for another 25-plus years, the organization has announced changes to its board of directors, introducing a more diverse group of industry advisors.
The new board members, who were installed during an virtual meeting in April, include Jill Hatton, DVP of sales and planning at Michael Kors; Susan Itzkowitz, president of Marc Fisher Footwear; Sharon Jones, SVP of sourcing and merchandising at Berkshire Hathaway Shoe Holdings; Faryl Morse, founder and CEO of Faryl Robin Footwear; and Matt Priest, president and CEO of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America, which merged with FFANY last year.
Meanwhile, the organization also announced that longtime board members Joe Moore and Greg Connors will retire. Moore, a former CEO of FFANY, has been involved with the Shoes on Sale event for over 20 years. “During this time, the foundation has directly contributed over $59 million to fund first-step research, and we simply would not have done so without Joe’s determination and passionate leadership,” said FFCF chairman Ron Fromm.
Of Connors, he added, “Greg and White Mountain Footwear have been longtime contributors to our efforts. His steady counsel has been critical in guiding the foundation through the challenges of the last few years.”
Since the coronavirus hit the U.S. early this year, the virus has caused significant disruption to the fight against breast cancer — the implications of which could have a devastating impact on the lives of women in the years to come.
Dr. Dorraya El-Ashry, chief scientific officer with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, told FN last fall, “While we are undergoing this global pandemic, breast cancer hasn’t stopped. One in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. And we still lose over 42,000 women every year in the U.S. to breast cancer.”
Now, those numbers could increase due to a decline in cancer screenings during the coronavirus health crisis. Meanwhile, many corporations have had to scale back on their giving due to economic pressures from COVID, meaning some research projects might stop, or labs would have to close.
Companies interested in getting more information about how to donate product to QVC Presents “FFANY Shoes on Sale” should contact FFCF at email@example.com.