Tonight was the launch party of Levi’s brand new ‘Shape What’s to Come‘ – a social network for women who work in the creative industries, for positive social change. The site has its public beta launch this coming Monday. I was invited by Levi’s PR agency, Edelman, with some classic blogger outreach ticking all the boxes (transparency, exclusive event invite, flattery, personalised email explaining why I was invited in particular, no press release attachment). So I was invited due to my work in social media for non-profits.
The party was at Levi’s flagship store on Regent Street in London. I arrived, wearing Primark jeans and a band t-shirt. Downstairs was a free bar and a bunch of ‘mood boards’ for want of a better term, created by SWTC ambassadors. The discussion was chaired by Annie Mac and the ambassadors included Kathryn Ferguson (filmmaker), Justice Williams (Tru Life magazine), Kristin Knox (fashion blogger), Ikonika (DJ/producer) and Anna Murray & Grace Winteringham (Patternity).
I’d guess that the crowd was 95% female, 95% aged 18-30 and quite racially diverse. It was also 95% stylish and 75% good looking IMO (which is pretty high). Once I’d finished objectifying my sisters, I thought I’d better listen to the discussion. Overall it was quite generic with people saying how important confidence and dedication is, how they don’t like being defined by being female etc.
Then Jane Bradley one of the organisers of Ladyfest 10 dared to utter the F word. What did our panelists think about Feminism? This caused a wave of nervous giggles and awkward expressions, and one by one the female role models on stage explained that they were not feminists. Patternity said they were women but weren’t working to exclusively help women (as if feminism doesn’t help men?!), and said, “this isn’t a feminist cult!”. At this point the woman in front of me said to her companion, “why are they all so fucking scared of being feminist?”. Hurrah that woman. Out of the six women on stage, only one was brave enough to come out as a feminist. That was Kristin Knox. She then talked about boy bloggers in fashion and mentioned something about gay and straight people that seemed a bit out of context but well done for trying to bring in the subject of sexuality anyway
Overall the discussion was a bit disappointing in its lack of depth or feminist analysis for me, but it was probably appropriate for the majority of the crowd who seemed to be interested in creative industry entrepreneurship and business rather than women working for social change. In fact, it wasn’t that clear what the ambassadors were doing in the field of social change. They seemed to be successful female role models though, and there was a little discussion about challenges with making money, and the struggles some had gone through financially.
After the talks was more networking time, then a surprise performance from The Noisettes, which was excellent and made me wish I’d brought a proper camera. The event was let down by not having any free wifi that I could find, and uncertainty of what hashtag to use. We also all got a 30% discount voucher for Levi’s which was nice. I had to leave early so missed the DJ set by Ikonika.
So this social network is clearly a branding and CSR endeavour by Levi’s and I’m interested to see how it goes. I met some good people tonight too and I think they got their target audience right. I now want to find out what Levi’s CSR policies are in term of slave labour etc. I know Primark are bad, but my reasoning for shopping there is that it’s better to give £8 to an unethical company than £80 to an equally unethical company for the same thing, when the price isn’t reflective of the workers’ wages anyway. But yeah, I haven’t researched Levi’s practices yet so I won’t pass judgement yet. I probably should have asked that question to the panel.