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When Big Companies Do Good Things (Hint: They Create a High Tech Boot to Help Raise Money for Breast Cancer)

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During fashion week, the life of runway model is about, well, running -- from castings to fittings to shows to more shows to after parties to after after parties. Imagine if they could wear a boot with advanced wireless technology so a pedometer could track the number of steps they take? It's not such a bad idea if for every mile walked in the boot, money would be donated to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. Talk about multitasking!

Nine West, a division of The Jones Group, is doing just that.

For the second consecutive year, this September, top fashion models including Carolyn Murphy, Chrissy Teigen and others participating in Spring/Summer 2012 Fashion Week will wear a limited edition, Nine West boot equipped with The Fitbit Wireless Activity Tracker. And indeed, for every mile walked in the boot, Nine West will donate $1 directly to breast cancer research. In fact, Model Carolyn Murphy, the campaign's key spokesmodel, put her money where her feet are, and stepped up to make her own financial contribution to the cause.

I was intrigued and thought it was great that Nine West implemented the Runway Relief boot. So I asked Stacy Lastrina, Chief Marketing Officer of The Jones Group and creator of the program to tell me more.

Q: Why is Nine West so passionate about supporting breast cancer awareness and prevention? 


Stacy Lastrina: Our relationship with women does not end with a product sale. We have always cared about the things that are important and relevant to women. Nine West has supported breast cancer awareness and research since 1994 when we cofounded QVC Presents FFANY (Fashion Footwear Association of New York) Shoes on Sale. That annual gala and charitable shoe sale benefits breast cancer research by selling designer shoes on QVC. Since then, more than $32 million has been raised through this initiative. When we launched Runway Relief last fall, it was because we decided that it's time to do something else that amazing to continue to support this cause.

Personally, I was inspired by Jodi Fisher's commitment to the cause. {Fisher, an executive at Nine West and Jones Apparel Group, passed away in 2009 after battling leukemia. She was 49-years-old.} She was one of the original co-creators of QVC Presents FFANY Shoes on Sale. It was a privilege working with her and it's important to me to keep her legacy alive. 



Q: Tell me about this boot and how it will help raise money?


Stacy Lastrina: Our Runway Relief boot was designed to take on all the Fashion Week wear and tear as the models run from show to show. It's rugged and lightweight, and comes equipped with a pocket to hold the Fitbit pedometer that will track steps. Fitbit has incredible technology that will allow us to sync all the steps wirelessly. So we can record everyone's progress, and as a result, make donations throughout the week. The Fitbit Tracker will be in each model's boots so we don't miss a step!

Q: How did you come up with Runway Relief?

Stacy Lastrina: The idea came to me last fall at the Rachel Roy show, as I was watching the energy of the models during Fashion Week - running into hair and makeup, from show to show. I just loved the concept of harnessing that energy and putting it towards a way to give back. We were so lucky to partner with Nigel Barker as the photographer for the campaign. And we had lead models like Coco Rocha last year, and Carolyn Murphy, this year, to lead the charge.

Also, in the program's second year, we've expanded the offering to include other items for proceeds to be donated to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. We've designed a messenger bag that is signed by over 50 CFDA members and friends of Nine West. Celebrity stylist Leslie Fremar has helped design a tank in conjunction with her collaboration with Fruit of the Loom.

We are also creating a music compilation with Columbia Records. The download will feature tracks from John Legend, Kreayshawn, Chairlift and more.

And we're joining forces with Nordstrom as they will be selling the boot and helping us activate people to join the movement. (Consumers can buy the boot at stores and at ninewest.com but, sorry, only models will have the tracker.)

Q: Ok, can we talk shoes? Roughly how many do you own? 


Stacy Lastrina: Hmm...between my shoe closet at home and the custom built one in my office, I've lost count after all these years. But I've never lost my love for heels! I love the quote, "the higher the heel the closer to heaven!"

Q: Were always a shoe person or did you grow into them? And what do you adore about your job? 


Stacy Lastrina: What girl isn't a shoe person? I personally sought out a career at Nine West and was hired by (Nine West cofounder) Vince Camuto when I was 27-years-old. Fashion suits my personality perfectly -- it is never static, it's fluid, fast paced and the people are a little bit crazy -- in a good way!