Mirror, Mirror: Tweets for the sweet pink products

In the world of fashion journalism, August marks the onslaught of all things rosy as companies rush to make sure stylistas are primed, pink, and panting by Oct. 1, the official start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Hundreds of designer labels, from Main Line-bred Tory Burch to Lacoste, have promised a percentage of their pink-product proceeds to support breast cancer research.

More interesting than the bevy of blushing fashions is how breast cancer awareness groups such as the Breast Cancer Research Foundation are partnering with retailers to engage in social-media outreach.

After all, the more people who know about Lacoste's $150 limited special edition pink sunglasses, the more people will buy them. (Lacoste has committed $2,500 of sunglass sales to BCRF.)

Last week, I attended one of the new breed of outreach sessions, a Twitterfest at the Marchon building in New York hosted by the Accessories Council in partnership with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The council represents 160 fashion and accessory brands. In the last two years, the organization (headed by Media-based president Karen Giberson) has been using social media to get the word out.

It was a pink-tinged social-media product barrage. More than 50 bloggers and fashion writers attended, including four from Philadelphia.

The Accessories Council handed out about a dozen pink items, ranging from Bobbi Brown pink lipstick to Alex Woo bracelets to LaMer body cream - even fashionably pink iPod accessories. And there was wine - rosé, of course.

We tweeted like crazy. It wasn't so much about what we said as that information went out to followers instantly.

With each presentation, we were given a Twitter handle. When jewelry designer Alex Woo told us how the loss of her mother inspired her to make a dainty breast cancer bracelet for charity, I tweeted that I was moved by @AlexWoo's story. And since I used Alex Woo's Twitter handle, all her followers could see she was mentioned. At the same time, I wasn't crazy about the bracelet. Were the two thin strings really worth $78? I tweeted.

We were reminded to include the words #acpinkpicks after each tweet, too. That's a hashtag, Twitter's way of categorizing topics. Writers and bloggers will not only tweet at this type of event; Philadelphia's Jimmy Contreras, plans to write about his favorite pink items throughout the month on his blog, Jimmy Street Style www.phillystreetstyle.com

Talk about a new kind of news conference.

"We reach millions of people this way," Giberson said.

Yes, we know it's a flackfest, but for years now, anybody who's selling anything to women will sell a pink version of their product - whether a T-shirt or a mixer - and say that the proceeds are going to breast cancer.

But, at the same time, people who have been touched by breast cancer look forward to buying their favorite items and knowing how much of their money is really going to fight the disease.

Myra Biblowit, president of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, was on hand at the event to announce tweetable statistics.

During the last fiscal year, Biblowit said, the foundation has raised more than $40 million and plans to give away $36.5 million. The foundation gives 92 cents to breast cancer research for every dollar it raises.

That's why there's interest in the Accessories Council partnering with BCRF, which isn't just getting swept up in the pink wave. Consumers are told exactly what percentage of the sale price of each product is donated.

The foundation, Biblowit says, has really seen a giving increase in the last 10 years because pink is as synonymous with October as black and orange.

Throw in a little fashion, add social media, and hopefully we're closer to a cure.


Mirror, Mirror:

VIDEO: See Bloomingdale's at King of Prussia Mall's pink picks for October at www.philly.com/style/video.


Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704, ewellington@phillynews.com, or on Twitter at @ewellingtonphl.