“Arianne and Carineh are deal brokers,” said Karla Welch, a stylist who became RAD’s conduit to its first partner, Elisabeth Moss, when she dressed her for the Globes in Dior, Roger Vivier, Tamara Mellon and Neil Lane, all of which made donations to the American Civil Liberties Union. “But deal brokers for social change.” (Ms. Moss was not paid by Dior.)
So really, what’s not to like?
“At the beginning everyone said, ‘Wow, I can’t believe no one has done this,’” Ms. Martin said. It was all very positive. Then it would go quiet.
“The red carpet is a moneymaking venture,” Ms. Welch said. But as anyone who has tried to report on the murky economic relationship between stars and brands knows, no one wants to discuss that.
And the fear was that mentioning donations would suggest a connection to some other sort of financial relationship. Which would run the risk of reminding viewers that maybe the dress a celebrity was modeling was actually chosen because, well, the brand offered the most money. Yucky! No one wanted that.
Even though, as Ms. Martin pointed out, “with RAD, there’s no pay to play.” The donation piece of the agreement is not part of the bidding war for a celebrity; it happens after the fashion conversation has become a fait accompli. (RAD is not a nonprofit, and Ms. Phillips and Ms. Martin take a 15 percent administrators’ fee from the brands on top of the donations, 33 percent of which they in turn donate to charity. Despite the Tinseltown economics, the goal is to eventually turn RAD into a B-corp.)
For a brand and a celebrity, it’s more of an investment in the future relationship. Which may sound like a specious nuance or holier-than-thou posturing, but has become an increasingly important factor in endorsement deal making.