When it began eight years ago, UJA-Federation’s Fashion Rescue was a sale of women’s clothing in a ballroom of a New York City hotel. This year’s event, which begins at 10 a.m. Sunday, will include the sale of clothing for women, men and children — and will be held in Madison Square Garden.“The event became so huge that we have outgrown just about all available space in New York,” said Robert Bronstein, a co-chair of the event with Louise Chazen. “New York hotels could not hold the amount of merchandise we sell and could not handle the [pedestrian] traffic.”
Bronstein, executive vice president of French Connection, a contemporary apparel company for women and men, said more than 25,000 shoppers are expected during the week-long sale that ends at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 13.Madison Square Garden’s Expo Center is “our most prestigious site,” said Bronstein, and is expected to draw more shoppers because of its central location and proximity to Penn Station.
“We will have over 200,000 pieces of merchandise on sale,” he said. “Everything is first quality and will sell for up to 70 percent off” retail prices.
He stressed that “fresh stock is put out every single day” to encourage return shoppers and attract new ones. Merchandise will run the gamut from ready-to-wear to sportswear, intimate apparel to swimwear, outerwear to accessories. Nearly $1.8 million was raised last year and this year Bronstein said he expects to raise as much as $2.5 million because of an extra sale day, longer shopping hours and more merchandise from more donors.
Bronstein said Fashion Rescue, a creation of UJA-Federation’s Young Leadership Committee, is one of the largest single fund raisers for the philanthropy.
This year, Bronstein said more than 500 of the fashion industry’s leading designers and manufacturers would be donating everything from single items to thousands of units. Among the designers participating in Fashion Rescue are Anne Klein, Calvin Klein, Ellen Tracy, Guess, Nautica, Polo and Tommy Hilfiger. The latter four are setting up their own special shops at the event, complete with their own fixtures. In some cases, they may man the booths or actually set them up.
Last year, the event featured only a limited selection of children’s clothes. This year there is a full department. In addition, there will be an extensive giftware department, including everything from books to housewares.
“The companies are so generous and people have become so involved in this event that they want to send beautiful, first-quality merchandise,” said Bronstein.A total of 1,500 volunteers will staff the event. Bronstein said some professionals “who know how to set up a retail store” have been hired because of the magnitude of the event.
Other than that major cost and the rental of the hall, the event has few expenses since virtually everything has been donated.An admission fee of $6 ($10 on Dec. 6) will help offset the expenses. A total of 88 cents of the proceeds goes directly to UJA-Federation programs. A total of 15 percent of that money is earmarked for UJA-Federation projects for cancer support and another 10 percent is channeled into HIV/AIDS prevention and support services. The rest will go to other UJA-Federation projects dealing with battered and abused women and children, the elderly, and the homeless and hungry.
The hours of the event are 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 6 and 13; 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Friday; and 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Saturday.