As stores drop out of Benefit Fashion Show, commissioners struggle to find replacements

January 26, 2020 — by Rohan Kumar and Christine Zhang

Head Benefit Fashion Show commissioners Natalie Tarbox and Jeffrey Xu have spent hours on their phones this year on an increasing difficult task: finding fashion store owners and managers to lend outfits to the event. 

Of the 20 stores they contacted, only eight expressed interest in donating outfits to the annual fundraising event. Most said previous participation had not increased their business.

With the show coming up on Feb. 29 in the Large Gym, Tarbox and Xu, along with their club adviser, Spanish teacher Stefany Marks, and their fellow commissioners — seniors Ava Bender and Katie Lam and juniors Katie Chen and Isabelle Lee — are racing to get outfits for the event.

More than 200 student models are expected to display outfits from various fashion stores, in the process earning revenue for a selected charity. This year, the show will be raising money for A Wish to Give Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports underprivileged children by providing educational resources such as tutoring, computers, books and exposure to outside opportunities. 

“It’s a really awesome community event for the whole school,” Tarbox said. “It’s just fun for the whole community to come out and raise money for a good cause.”

Last year, the commission donated to Color a Classroom with Love following the Paradise fires in November 2018, but this year they switched to A Wish to Give Foundation, since it was a more local charity that was suggested by a Saratoga alum’s parent, Debbie Bus.

Ticket prices start at $10 for students with ASB, $20 for students without ASB and $25 for adults, with premium tickets priced at $40. Attendees with premium tickets will receive a goodie bag and are reserved better seats.  There will also be a silent auction at the event with gift certificates, clothes, coupons and other items donated by fashion stores. Tarbox said the show generally makes from $10,000 to $15,000 in profits.

Tarbox said the commissioners have been meeting weekly since the start of the school year, coordinating logistics such as lighting, staging and scheduling.

Among the 20 stores they have reached out to are Banana Republic, Redemption and Palapa Lounge.

“It’s just a constant thing,” Tarbox said. “You always have to be reaching out to stores and expecting the unexpected.”

First Date and Prom are two themes that have not gone as well as planned. Camille La Vie, the company that provided First Date dresses last year, and francesca’s, which provided Prom dresses, are two companies that dropped out of the event.

Although Marks was able to find another store, thredUP, to provide eight dresses for First Date, the commission was unable to find a store to provide for Prom, meaning that the models will have to wear their own dresses for the event. The Saratoga Library will also donate three men’s outfits for the First Date theme.

“We’ll definitely have enough outfits for First Date, but we might not have enough for the entire event,” Xu said. “We have a low volume of outfits, but I think it’ll work out.”

Other themes include Girls Night Out, Boho, “Fun in the Sun, Rock and Roll, Bromance, Country Club, California Winter,” Cultural, Outdoors, Athletic Wear and Design Your Own. The Cultural theme this year will incorporate cultural outfits donated from students in order to expand diversity. 

Xu said outfits will be assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis due to the difficulty of finding stores to donate outfits. Models who aren’t assigned an outfit will have to bring their own or borrow one from their peers. 

“Right now it feels like everything’s a mess, but I think we just need to keep working hard and it will come together,” Xu said.

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