Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cam Newton MADE my day

I'm not a sports person, but I do know that Cam Newton is a Carolina Panthers quarterback with a large fan base around the country.
When I heard he was going to make a big announcement at Belk headquarters on Tyvola Road I was glad to be invited.
There was a lot of excitement in the air as a crowd of hundreds, mostly Belk employees and the media, sat in the building's main atrium facing a stage with a large video screen in the middle.
Soon the music cranked up and three dancers from the Dance District performed an energetic routine.

See video here:
Afterward, Belk president Kathryn Bufano, executive vice president of brands John Thomas and some pyrotechnics announced the news: the sports star would be partnering exclusively with Belk for a menswear line called MADE Cam Newton. The crowd cheered when Cam finallywalked on stage.
As he began to talk about the line, there was laughter when he described the clothes as "swaggerific." He embodied swaggerific in his MADE Cam Newton suit and super bright smile while four male models showed off a variety of looks from the line. The clothes will be available in Belk stores early next year. I would describe the brand as conservative but with a modern edge.
After the presentation I darted off to the media area where Cam was doing one-on-one interviews with TV and print journalists including national media. I had so much fun hanging out in the waiting area. I had an interesting conversation with John Thomas. He told me that whether Cam wins or loses on the football field, they believe in him and his line. John was looking sharp himself. I loved the stylish way he combined a striped tie with a patterned pocket square.
Then I noticed Fox News anchor Morgan Fogarty who is ridiculously beaiutiful and talented. There's a reason why some people are on TV. She was talking to the amazing Arlene Goldstein, Belk's vice president of trend merchandising, whom I credit for taking Belk into the most stylishly exciting and fashion forward stage of its history.
Soon it was my turn to enter the interview room. I became flustered when I realized the way it was staged. Cam was seated in a chair in front of a backdrop of his logo as two TV cameraman filmed using lots of lights. There was a vacant chair across from Cam that was supposed to be my perch.  He's used to that kind of media attention but I'm not.
Cam resembled a kid when he showed me the detail on the MADE logo. "It's the Panthers' colors," he said with real excitement. He pointed out how it's designed so the first three letters spell CAM backward, and the D incorporates the word Newton. So, even if you think you're looking at a logo that says MADE, it really says MADE Cam Newton. That's clever.
When Cam and I had our photo taken together at the end of the interview, I used the opportunity to touch the back of his suit. It passed my quality test. Then I knocked over a full bottle of water. Great.

Cam is so young and so eager you can't help but like him. I also liked the line and its price range ($50 for a shirt up to $500 for a suit). But most of all I like his philosophy of encouraging men to dress well. I'll be rooting for him.

Follow Olivia Fortson on Twitter @oliviafortson