Feminist Retail: M.M.LaFleur Clothes Would-Be Congresswomen
As the 2020 US election season revs up, NY-based women’s workwear brand M.M.LaFleur has launched Ready to Run – a campaign offering female political candidates free access to a professional capsule wardrobe, regardless of their party affiliation. Side-stepping partisan politics, the initiative affirms the retailer’s ongoing focus on female solidarity.
To enrol, candidates email M.M.LaFleur with their name and the office for which they’re running (any public office is eligible). Once the information is verified, the candidates select five garments, which they’ll return after their campaign.
The idea stemmed from feedback solicited following the 2016 elections, when consumers said they wanted to see the brand supporting female politicians – a response to the fact that only 27% of local US offices are currently held by women (Rutgers, 2020). Given M.M.LaFleur’s mission to encourage women’s career aspirations (launched online in 2013, it offers professional women who dislike shopping stylist-selected pieces to buy or return for free), the intelligence spurred an ideal way to illustrate its commitment.
Within 24 hours of the programme’s launch, M.M.LaFleur received over 300 responses. The scheme is also garnering support from politicians, such as popular New York congressional representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who shared her own wardrobe struggles: “When I was running for office [in 2018] […] accessing clothing for the job was a big challenge both logistically and financially.”
The concept may bolster M.M.LaFleur’s profile among Washington DC’s aspiring politicians. The city is already a key market for the brand – it’s the location of its most recent To Go store, where shoppers can bypass its typical concierge format to grab wardrobe essentials. This is its second To Go location, following the concept's launch in New York last October. Two more locations are scheduled to open in Boston and Chicago by summer 2020.
It’s not the only brand putting actions behind its mission. Ben & Jerry’s and Patagonia lead the way with brand-driven activism – a strategy they discussed at our 2019 Decoded Summit in NYC. For more on this topic, see Brands As Change Leaders and Retail’s Activist Brands.