You could call Jill Alexander a divorcee sympathizer. The former west coast brand manager for Tory Burch isn't divorced, but let's just say she gets where divorcees are coming from. Her latest project is the The Divorcée Sale, a fashion-forward event that invites divorcées to get rid of their unwanted designer “baggage” for a good cause—breast cancer research. The event takes place May 13-15 at the Mondrian Hotel in Los Angeles. The entrepreneurial fashionista, who has worked in the luxury retail business for 15 years, including stints at Barneys New York and Dolce & Gabbana, talked to HuffPost about her inspiration for the sale and why getting rid of YSL can be cathartic.
How did you come up with the idea for a Divorcee Sale?
Living in Los Angeles, a lot of people go through divorce. I’ve talked to a lot of women and friends going through it, and just listening to them talk about it—whether they are moving back home or downsizing—they are just changing so much about themselves. A lot of women want to get rid of their old things and they wonder how to do it, so I thought, why not do a divorcee sale?
You are not divorced. Why put divorcees in the spotlight?
I’ve never been married, but this is a very real thing that is going on. We all know people going through divorce, whether it’s you or your family member or a friend. It’s not first on people’s minds to consign their clothes when they are going through a divorce—they just want it gone. Why not figure out a great way that many people can benefit from? I have visually seen the relief in people’s faces when I cart their stuff off to my car—it’s like a weight lifted off of them. There are so many items that are new or have been worn once that these women don’t want anymore because it reminds them of their past life, so someone else can enjoy them and they don’t have the baggage that goes with that. It’s a win-win for everybody—it’s cathartic for the divorcee, it’s charitable, and it’s great for the shopper as well.
Who do the proceeds go to? Do proceeds benefit divorcées in any way?
We’re donating to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I have a friend named Meredith Israel and she has Stage 4 Breast Cancer, so I thought why not donate to a friend who is going through it? She’s raised a ton of money herself and she recommended BCRF so those are the two charities we are supporting. Twenty five percent of the proceeds from the sale will be split between Meredith’s medical find and BCRF. The merchandise being sold is on consignment, so the divorcees will absolutely be paid also. There are around 40 consignors from all around the country.
What can shoppers expect to see there?
Friday night we’re hosting a preview VIP event that we’ve sold tickets for on the divorcee sale website and on Gilt City. All the ticket proceeds go to charity—it was just a great way to raise a little more money for the cause, and the real fashionistas out there are dying to get the first peek at the good stuff. The sale is open to the public Saturday and Sunday at the Mondrian penthouse; it’s absolutely stunning. We have everything from Lanvin to YSL; there will also be some more affordable merchandise like Tory Burch—clothing, handbags, shoes, even a designer suitcase. The wonderful thing is that because these are all from real people, the sizes range from tiny to big. It spans different taste levels and age levels—there are things like Christian Louboutin platforms and also St. John. The merchandise will be organized by category and size. It’s a smaller space, not a big warehouse, so it’s not going to be that frenetic energy at all. There will be champagne served; it’s not going to be a thrift sale environment, more like a high-end resale boutique and keeping with the level of merchandise. Prices will range anywhere from $50 to $2500; the average price point in somewhere around $150-250.
How many people do you expect to attend?
I have a feeling it’s going to be a really busy weekend and we’re going to raise a lot of money. People have been really excited and blogging and talking about it.
Who has donated? Are all sellers divorcées?
There are boxes coming in from all over the country, and there are lots of divorcees absolutely. There are also other people who just want to get involved with the charity and clean out their closets as well. I really encourage for people, whether they are divorced or not, to open their closets for a great cause.
Why have the sale in Los Angeles? Do you think it’s a divorcee capital?
I live in Los Angeles but the sale is definitely going on the road. I’ve been reaching out to different people all around the country and everyone wants to have a divorcee sale in their city. We are doing Orange Country next month and in the fall we’ll hopefully go to Florida and Phoenix.
What are your favorite three items up for sale?
There’s a Pucci dress (priced at $400) I love, and there’s an amazing satin Dolce & Gabbana dress ($300). There are some amazing new YSL shoes ($400)—someone will be so happy to have them who can’t afford the original $800 price tag. There will also be denim (priced $50-$100); there really is something for everybody.
It seems like you’re using the divorcée designation here in a positive light. Do you think the stigma attached to the word has disappeared?
Absolutely not. Let’s hope this sale can help! I don’t think we are there yet; it’s everywhere in out society but it’s still a very taboo subject.
The Divorcee Sale takes place in Los Angeles at the Mondrian Hotel, May 13-15. Entry for the May 13 preview event is $35; Entry on May 14 and May 15 is free. Visit Thedivorceesale.com for more information.