Witherspoon Wanted to Help Teachers. It Backfired

One million educators applied for a free Draper James dress; there were only 250 available
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2020 9:50 AM CDT
Witherspoon Takes Flak for Playing Fairy Godmother to Teachers
Reese Witherspoon speaks at during the Apple TCA 2020 Winter Press Tour on Jan. 19, 2020, in Pasadena, Calif.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)

Reese Witherspoon said she wanted "to show teachers a little extra love" in offering free dresses through her fashion line, Draper James, earlier this month, per Glamour. But love is hardly what teachers are feeling following the promotion, described as a way to honor those who are "working harder than ever to educate our children" during quarantine. "They didn't mean every teacher," as the New York Times reports. Indeed, Draper James—a relatively new company with fewer than 30 employees—had only 250 dresses to give away. The brand expected entries in the "single-digit thousands" in the three days the promotion was live, per the Times. But it received nearly 1 million entries, including from some who'd heard about the promotion on ABC's Good Morning America and NBC's Today.

"The idea of a free dress during a high-stress time was really exciting. It was really like Cinderella," one entrant tells the Times. But "in the end, it felt like her brand profited more than the teachers." Promotional emails soon began arriving at email addresses submitted with the application form. Non-winners were offered a 30% discount and the option to unsubscribe. But one teacher, Dina Ley, commented that Draper James' dresses were too expensive even with the discount. "If I'm spending over $100 on an 'everyday dress,' it better also grade essays," she tweeted. Draper James, which sold some 150,000 dresses in all of 2019, has since announced it's donating an undisclosed sum to a charity supplying teachers with classroom essentials, per the Times. It is also working on a second giveaway. (Read more Reese Witherspoon stories.)

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