On September 10, designer Angelo Baque, founder of Awake, presented a collaboration at the fashion brand’s NYFW show. But the four-piece collection wasn’t made with another fashion brand or designer; instead, Baque collaborated with the mail carrier UPS.
It’s now common to see non-fashion brands at fashion shows and events, typically in a sponsorship capacity. From mail carriers to financial service companies to hotels, these companies are aiming to capitalize on the affluent NYFW audience. But for the brands, beyond the money received, associating with the right company can be a way to emphasize the message they want their show to send.
That was the idea for Baque when collaborating with UPS. Born to Ecuadorian parents and raised in Queens, Baque decided to collaborate with UPS because of its small business development tools and the fact that it’s given $1 million in grants to diverse-owned businesses. UPS funded the creation of the clothes and the event for Awake.
“I wanted to [highlight] our mutual dedication to empowering and unifying the Latinx communities,” Baque said. “The [show’s theme], ‘Unidos Para Siempre,’ is inspired by the UPS acronym and specifically illustrates solidarity within what can be a very fragmented cultural identification.”
“We couldn’t think of a better way to support small businesses than on the global stage of New York Fashion Week,” said Betsy Wilson, UPS vp of digital marketing and brand activations, in an email to Glossy.
TIAA, a financial services company that provides retirement savings, worked with the designer Fe Noel on a dress covered in fake bills totaling $1.6 million, the average amount of money women lose in retirement savings due to inequality.
Noel said she wanted her NYFW show to double as an act of protest and to “spotlight glaring inequalities” and the ways women are financially disempowered. Working with a financial company that tries to remedy that problem made that message stronger, Noel said.
With women making up the vast majority of fashion school graduates, NYFW was a perfect way for TIAA to get its message to more women, said Micky Onvural, CMO of TIAA and former CEO of menswear brand Bonobos. TIAA paid for both the creation of the dress and the show.