Two UMass Boston alumnae have teamed up to raise money for student scholarships in a very fashionable way.
Pamela Trefler ’93, co-founder of the nonprofit designer apparel resale website Union & Fifth, has partnered with world-renowned bridal designer Amsale Aberra ’81 to sell a selection of designer bridesmaid gowns on the online store, naming UMass Boston as the charity beneficiary.
At Trefler’s Union & Fifth website, users can donate or purchase gently worn designer women’s clothing. Donors of the designer clothing select which charity benefits from the sale of their collections, weaving fashion with philanthropy.
This year there have been over two dozen items for sale benefiting UMass Boston, including black Chanel sandals, a sparkling Judith Leiber clutch, and an Armani cashmere hoodie.
Aberra agreed to donate a collection of bridesmaid dresses to Union & Fifth this year. Aberra sits at the helm of a couture wedding dress and evening wear empire that encompasses three collections and has garnered a great deal of celebrity attention.
“I loved my time at UMass Boston, and I am so glad that I can help the students through the donation of these dresses from my collection,” said Aberra.
Once sold, the proceeds will support scholarships to ensure that UMass Boston students can focus on their studies and help reduce the financial burden often associated with realizing their dreams.
In addition to scholarships, the money will be used for academic support, research partnerships with faculty, career development, and internships.
“A small amount of assistance goes a long, long way for our students,” says UMass Boston Assistant Vice Chancellor of Special Projects Carol Kelley. “As alumnae, we are immensely proud of the professional mark Amsale and Pam have made. But even more, we are honored that they are ensuring that students following them will have the same life-changing education that they did.”
Trefler loves fashion and philanthropy, and Union & Fifth is her way of combining the two. Trefler graduated from UMass Boston with a BA in English. She and her husband, Alan Trefler, established the Trefler Foundation, which was instrumental in the creation of the College of Education and Human Development’s Teach Next Year program. She launched Union & Fifth in December 2015 and continues to expand its philanthropic mission.
“My experience at UMass Boston changed the way I think about philanthropy, and where there are pockets of need,” Trefler said.
She hopes that her mission-driven organization can raise money using things that are unwanted.
“Maybe you can’t write a check,” she said. “But you can buy, or you can sell.”