The most notable combination of fashion and charity today is of course (PRODUCT)RED, a project started by Bono and Bobby Shriver, to raise awareness and money for The Global Fund. Companies like Gap, Emporio Armani, and Converse have branded some of their merchandise with (RED) labels, and they all donate a percentage of the revenue created by selling these products in their stores. The money is then used to purchase anti-retroviral medication and distribute it to impoverished countries in
Not only have (RED) products clearly helped people in the world, but it has also done something for fashion. (PRODUCT)RED has created a whole new collection of looks, most notably for Armani’s new designs. In developing his collection, Giorgio Armani teamed up with Ghanaian contemporary artist Owusu-Ankomah, whose art is featured on the clothing, accessories and packaging. The shining red African pictograms give the line something new and different, and they are meant to represent positive, hopeful symbols for the future of
Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren are two of
Even fashion house and mega-million dollar corporation Gucci has decided that charities are a worthy cause for their huge profits. Renewing a program that started in 2005, Gucci once again decided to hold “The Gucci Holiday Campaign to Benefit UNICEF” in 2007. From November 15th through December 31st, Gucci donated 25% of the sales from the special holiday items, personally crafted by Gucci’s Creative Director Frida Giannini, to UNICEF. In addition to the special holiday campaign, the company came out with a special “Gucci for UNICEF” Indy bag that will be sold in stores until December of this year. Just like the rest of the UNICEF items, 25 percent of the revenue generated by this bag goes directly to UNICEF.
Gucci may be the most well known luxury brand to commit themselves to charity work, however they are not alone. Cartier too partnered with eight celebrities in order to design a product in which a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to charity. Their concept is the LOVE Charity Bracelet, and each celebrity has created a different color piece, representing a different charity that will be supported . A few examples of the best-selling bracelets are Sarah Jessica Parker’s blue UNICEF bracelet, Rosario Dawson’s red Youth Aids Bracelet, Liv Tyler’s deep pink Breast Cancer Research Foundation bracelet, and Scarlett Johansson’s baby pink USA Harvest bracelet. The 18-carat white gold with cotton cord bracelet is sold at $475, $100 of which is given to the corresponding charity. Visibly, both Gucci and Cartier’s commitment towards different charities demonstrates that even on the most lavish and extravagant level, charity and fashion still fit together extremely well, and that the classification of members of the fashion world as “superficial, uncaring, label-whores” may not have to continue into the new age of fashion trends.
To end, I want to note that while integrating politics and fashion may have been something to avoid in the past, today it is nothing less than essential. We have made a movement in fashion trends where people do not just want to wear new clothes; they want their clothes to express something about their personality. Many believe that consumers are only buying these “charitable” items so they can participate in guilt-free shopping, and others believe that fashion houses are actually profiting more by donating a small portion of their profits than they would if they did not have these campaigns at all. However, I believe the old proverb to be true: “Charity looks at the need and not at the cause.” Does it really matter if fashion houses profit and consumers have a false sense of philanthropy by purchasing these items, as long as people are getting the help they deserve? True, one could just go donate 2,000 dollars directly to UNICEF instead of purchasing the Gucci handbag, but would UNICEF get all of those donations if it were not for Gucci’s campaign? Probably not. So while this trend for charitable giving might come and go as fast as neon pleather or shoulder pads, I think we should embrace this one while it lasts, because finally the fashion industry may have gotten something right.