Genentech doubles up on Double Take, rebooting SMA fashion event for 2nd showing

Genentech is returning to the catwalk. Months after supporting an event at New York Fashion Week, the Roche subsidiary is again working with the spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) community to get people to do a double take and see the individual style of people living with the condition.

Numbers swirl around the project. Last year, Genentech worked with 15 people in the SMA community to create a fashion show designed to cause viewers to do a double take, looking again at the participants because of their style, not their disability. The event was attended by more than 200 people, viewed by 260,000 people on the YouTube livestream and garnered media coverage outside the rare disease space.

“The message around inclusivity and stereotype busting struck a chord across many different outlets. Vogue ran a couple of features on the fashion show and Elle listed Double Take as one of the top five New York Fashion Week moments,” Michael Dunn, senior director of marketing at Genentech, said in an interview with Fierce Pharma Marketing. 

Genentech, which sells the oral SMA medicine Evrysdi, is bringing the event back for the Annual SMA Conference later this year. The Cure SMA-run, Genentech-sponsored event brings together researchers and healthcare professionals along with individuals with SMA and their families. After seeing Double Take resonate with people with SMA, Genentech decided to reboot the event and bring it to the community.

The show will feature many of the same contributors and participants, wearing the same garments, as last year’s event. The key difference is the audience. At New York Fashion Week, Double Take reached far beyond the SMA world. Genentech and its partners are putting on the new event for the community. 

“We heard after New York Fashion Week that it provided many of the individuals and participants in the fashion show, as well as many individuals who weren't in the fashion show, with a platform for them to break down stereotypes and drive awareness of the need for adaptive fashion,” Dunn said. 

The new event “will truly be by the SMA community, for the broader disabled community,” Dunn said, and is the culmination of all of the feedback Genentech has received. Dunn sees the event as a way for Genentech to help patients “amplify their voice and give the SMA community a platform to advocate for positive social change.”

Efforts that raise awareness of Genentech and Evrysdi could also help maintain the momentum built up behind the product since it launched into a market already fought over by Biogen and Novartis in 2020. Sales of Evrysdi hit 363 million Swiss francs ($399 million) in the first quarter of this year, putting the product on track to top the 1.1 billion Swiss francs it brought in 2022.