Ann Taylor's going Ivy League.
The wear-to-work retailer is looking to lure in clients before they even enter the workforce. But they're not targeting just any college kid preparing to go on job interviews--they're looking to cast five students from Columbia University to model for their online lookbook, which, according to a release, will be "a trusted resource that will provide female college/graduate students with fashion advice and career inspiration across a variety of different industries."
This latest announcement fits with Ann Taylor's recent efforts to revive and freshen up the brand: they just signed Katie Holmes as the face of the brand and have been putting out strong J.Crew-esque collections with particularly great accessories for the past few seasons. So it follows that they're targeting a younger clientele. To that end, Ann Taylor also plans to reach Columbia students (and prospective models for their site) with the help of two undergrads who will serve as brand ambassadors. These two CU seniors, Erica Clauss and Lauren Zanedis, will team up with student organizations throughout the year to "provide fashion advice and guidance to students" as they gear up for interviews. They'll both be on hand on February 10 at the Columbia University Casting Call, an event that is partnered with the Columbia Women in Business Society and the Columbia Career Center. Reps from Ann Taylor's corporate team will be on hand to inform CU students of "proper interview etiquette and resume critique." And since Columbia's business school recently issued a memo to its students on the importance of maintaining proper hygiene and always wearing "(preferably skin colored) hosiery" and never wearing rainboots "no matter how cute you think they are," perhaps this is not such a bad idea.
Of course, Ann Taylor isn't the only brand to reach out to students by using student ambassadors. BCBGeneration recruits student ambassadors across the country. "The program is basically a marketing internship," explains Natalie Yost, a senior at UCLA who has worked with BCBGeneration on campus for the past three years (and is also a Fashionista contributor). "Our main goal is to help the brand build up their email database, so we host events on and off campus where we pass out really cute items like t-shirts, tote bags, notebooks, sunglasses and get email addresses in exchange." Yost also contributes to the brand's blog and promotes events via Twitter and Facebook. In exchange, she gets a monthly check from BCBG and a clothing stipend so she can outfit herself in the brand for events. Not a bad gig.
It's not clear whether Ann Taylor's student brand ambassadorship program offers similar benefits but we'd wager there are perks. And good thing Gucci's already nabbed CU alum James Franco--what with his falling asleep, he wouldn't have made a very good brand ambassador.