Tuesday, February 09, 2010

A Common Thread

Whether you’re interested in helping, or interested in fashion, clothing for a cause is something that everyone can get on board with. It is a movement that is going no where, and helping everywhere.

Everyone has an innate desire to help. It is a void that, as humans, we all need to fill. Whether you equate philanthropy with compassion and the desire to help others, or you see it as an act to self fulfill, philanthropic fashion can meet your craving to commit to a cause. And with so much focus on fashion being superficial; an industry obsessed with shallow appearances and material goods, it’s surprising what can be found when you take a closer look.

For the past four years Naomi Campbell has worked the catwalk in collaboration with top international faces in fashion, music, film, and television in a show featuring glamorous clothes created by world renowned fashion designers. Her project, Fashion for Relief™, chooses a different cause every year to raise money for. In its first year alone, Fashion for Relief™ raised over one million dollars for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In 2009, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Bloomingdales, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation teamed up to create a line of t-shirts and bracelets whose profits would be donated to charity. The “Miss Marc Cure” line featured cutesy images of a girl with boxing gloves on, boldly stating that she “fights like a girl”. The success was overwhelming and the line continues to flourish and expand.

Fashion has the ability to cross boundaries and cultures, and the capacity to undermine language, race, and colour. Fashion evokes an emotional reaction; something that can be shared by everyone. What makes philanthropic fashion ventures so unique is that they go one step further. It is not only the ability to find common ground among complete strangers, but to help them unite for a common goal or cause that they are passionate about.

Finding common ground is what Gap (PRODUCT) RED™ is all about. It is viewed not just as a charity, but an entirely new way of doing business. Committed to giving back to the communities where they source from, all items from Gap’s (PRODUCT) RED™ line are made in Africa from one hundred percent African cotton with half the profits going toward The Global Fund, an organization based on helping women and children affected by AIDS in Africa.

I recently spoke to Jordy Beale, cofounder of Rock Your Cause™, a cause-related apparel company with everything from t-shirts to scarves that can be customized to represent whatever cause you wish to raise money for. When asked why someone might be interested in philanthropic fashion she responded, “To say that people are interested in fashion for a cause might be a bit of a generalization. I think that it is more accurate to say that people are interested in helping, and doing so through fashion allows them to do this in a way that goes further than sending off a cheque or giving out a credit card number.”

Beale and partner Mara Sofferin started Rock Your Cause™ in 2008. The pair’s personal and hands-on approach to philanthropy is a proven success. Whether you are planning a fundraising event or simply looking for a cause to support, Rock Your Cause™ will assist in reaching your fundraising goal, in a trendy fashion.

Beale later stated that she thinks “fashion speaks louder than words” and I couldn’t agree more. It matters not if it’s through a celebrity endorsed fashion show, a bracelet by Marc Jacobs that could save a life, or a full-circle feeling; knowing that the (PRODUCT) RED™ shirt you’re wearing will help give something greater back to the person who made it for you. It’s about being able to make a difference. In Beale’s words “fashionable philanthropy inspires people young and old to become socially conscious agents of change.”

So I say, keep conscious, keep coming together, and keep changing the world… one cause at a time.

No comments: