By John Koblin
Over the next week, as the fashion world heads to Milk Studios in West Chelsea to see one of Made Fashion Week’s 15 runway shows, it will be greeted by a guest: a giant pink elephant.
The inflatable 10-foot-tall elephant, designed by the artist Tristin Lowe, is part of a collaboration between Made Fashion Week and the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation to raise awareness about the Clintons’ latest cause: ivory trafficking and the killing of African elephants.
“We have about 15,000 people flowing through the doors this week,” said Keith Baptista, a managing partner at Made Fashion Week.
The idea for the alliance with Made apparently started when Chelsea Clinton was chatting about the issue with Diane von Furstenberg and Oscar de la Renta at a party for the outgoing mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in early December. (“They’re two of our closest family friends,” Ms. Clinton said of the designers, adding that she and her mother had dinner with them on Tuesday night.)
Ms. von Furstenberg and Mr. de la Renta suggested that Ms. Clinton reach out to Anna Wintour, who in turn directed the Clinton Foundation to the Council of Fashion Designers of America. That’s when an introduction was made to Made.
“We feel that if we can build platforms around fashion and music and art, why can’t we also do something that has a political message?” Mr. Baptista said.
This year, Made Fashion Week will produce more than 30 runway shows and presentations (there will be shows at sites other than Milk Studios), including those by Public School, Jeremy Scott and Ohne Titel.
The Clintons wanted to target Fashion Week because of the sorts of people going to shows (“the press, the buyers, the influencers,” Mr. Baptista said) and the social media reach they have.
“Let’s say Karlie Kloss is going to Made and posts about the installation and the crisis, then her one million Instagram followers see it’s an issue,” said Ali Rubin, the deputy chief of staff for Chelsea Clinton. “We know that the people who follow her, for example, are likely the same people who are purchasing high-end goods — including, at times, ivory.”
Conversation organizations, including the Wildlife Conservation Society, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International, also participated in bringing the elephant to fashion week.
In addition to the elephant installation, Suno, Pamela Love and Prize Pins will be designing accessories and jewelry for the initiative. (Those will be sold through the Milk store in the fall.)
“The Made community in particular can raise awareness why this is so wrong and not in our long-term interests,” Chelsea Clinton said.