If you’re in New York and head down to 90 Orchard Street today, you’ll see a street mural that shows five women and reads, “Be Bold for Change,” which is an international theme for Women’s History Month. The artwork is just one part of a multi-prong partnership between Keds and Refinery29 to celebrate International Women’s Day that includes a pop-up market and discussion with Girls and Get Out actress Allison Williams.
This is the second year that the brand has partnered with Refinery29. The two brands are using artwork to start a conversation about things that matter to women, explained Refinery29 co-founder and executive creative director Piera Gelardi, “We’re in such a digital culture and visuals have the power to travel far and wide, and they can encapsulate ideas in a nano-second.”
The event kicked off with the pop-up shop at the Tictail Market where limited edition merchandise, including posters, t-shirts and tote bags with artwork that was originally created for the Women’s March by a collective of female artists curated by Refinery29. At the market, Keds is selling limited edition sneakers customized at the event by illustrator Jen Mussari. The proceeds from the sales at the market will go to She Should Run, an organization championing women who want to run for public office.
Working with Refinery29 made sense for Keds because “they’re fundamentally aligned with us around female empowerment,” said Emily Culp, Keds’ chief marketing officer. “It’s part of our DNA as a brand—Keds was founded in 1916 and has always been about putting ladies first … For us [the event] is not [about taking] a political stance. It goes back to [our history], we’ve been about ladies since 1916 so for over 100 years, whether it was politically in vogue or not even a topic it’s what we’ve stood for.”
With this event Refinery29 is serving as the main creative partner for the Keds brand. Culp explained that using Refinery29 and its in-house team to shepherd the event was the simplest option. “The alternative is to work with three different agencies; you’d have a talent management [shop], a creative agency and a media partner,” said Culp. “This way I’m creating amazing, beautiful assets with a team that already knows my talent along with [PR shop] DKC conducting interviews. It’s all a very tight-knit ecosystem and you get far better work out of it and frankly you also get media coverage.”
This evening, to cap off the event, Gelardi will host a conversation with Alison Williams that will be broadcast on Refinery29’s Facebook page. ”
“The event this year will be so meaningful, poignant and hopefully really fun for anyone that stops by the pop-up,” said Williams. “I love working with both companies because their priority—and they aren’t really shy about this—is women and girls and that’s something that’s important to me.”