Friday, November 05, 2010
Background on copyright laws and the fashion industry
Copyright protection allows the original creator the right to control the reproduction of artistic work. The purpose and intent of the law is to encourage new ideas and to promote the development of certain activities. The consumer’s interest is also an important aspect of copyright protection and is taken into account when considering the right to public access of such works.
The fashion industry is known to be one of the most counterfeited markets. The International Chamber of Commerce estimates that counterfeited goods are worth over $350 billion worldwide. Many times, the ownership, sales as well as the manufacturing processes of counterfeited goods are conducted across numerous countries. From a legal standpoint, there is no clear protection that is uniform across countries. Certain countries allow for protection of the functionality of artistic work but not the design or style. Other countries have little or no copyright protection. Thus, the inconsistencies among countries in regards to copyright protection make it difficult for designers to seek legal remedies against counterfeiters.
How designers benefit from counterfeiting
The fashion industry operates on the premise of change. It is in a constant state of movement, with new designs created each season and consumers replacing old items as they become less fashionable for new ones. The success of the fashion industry depends on this movement through the fashion cycle. It is the ongoing rise, peak and fall in popularity of specific styles that makes this movement possible.
In order for goods to move through the fashion cycle, they have to move through each phase by way of increasing and decreasing supply and demand. The initial phase of the fashion cycle starts with exclusive designs, this is where the new “looks” are first introduced to the public. As the popularity or demand of the design become more prevalent, supply increases and these designs are duplicated by other designers. At the peak of popularity, where demand is the highest, the design becomes more widely available to the mass market. At the end of the fashion cycle, designs are copied and are available inexpensively at budget stores or lower end chains and discount stores. New designs are introduced for the next season and the cycle starts over again.
Without copying, the fashion industry is unable to move through the fashion cycle. It facilitates the constant demand that is sought after by consumers and helps fuel the industry to come up with new designs and ideas. In fact, the current lack of copyright protection actually helps to spur investment and foster new ideas rather than impede them. It essentially helps to promote the success of the industry.
It can be further argued that counterfeiting promotes the popularity of the designers. If designs are not copied, then they cannot be available to the mass market, and without this, designers would not gain the brand recognition they desire, which in turn helps them profit from future designs.
One of the key claims made by designers is the losses they suffer at the hands of counterfeiters. However, looking at it from a consumer perspective, it could be said that customers who purchase counterfeit merchandise would never be the ones who buy the real thing. These consumers represent a different target market and therefore the actual losses suffered by designers are minimal.
In fact, most people that purchase counterfeit merchandise do so because they like the designs and cannot afford to purchase the real thing. The people who purchase counterfeit merchandise are promoting the brand rather than devaluing it, thereby creating awareness which translates into earning power for the designers. Additionally, customers may end up purchasing from these designers in the future once they are able afford it. Thus, counterfeiting actually helps create future potential customers for the designers.
As for the working conditions and abuse of workers by companies that counterfeit designs, it is true that there are instances where manufactures take advantage of workers. However, if counterfeiting laws prohibit the manufacturing of such merchandise, then in many of these less developed countries where most of these jobs are situated, massive economic hardship would result by the elimination of these jobs. Thus, it can be said that the industry helps create jobs for workers to earn a living that they may not have available otherwise.
It is true that designers should have a moral right to enjoy the benefits of their creativity and should have legal protections in place to take action if necessary to protect their reputation against unscrupulous counterfeiters. However, if designers want to seek legal action, the costs may outweigh the benefits.
Designers may end up spending a lot of time pursuing legal action that may end up costing more in legal fees than gaining compensation for the supposed losses suffered as a result of counterfeiting. Further, proof of original ownership must be established in order to bring a claim against a person or company who copies without permission. Since many designs are rooted in taking inspiration from various outlets and possibly other designers, especially since fashion seems to repeat itself every decade or so, who is to say what constitutes originality. Establishing copyright infringement may prove to be a difficult task with little or no benefit.
Overall, there is validity to both sides of the argument; however, if one looks at it from the perspective of the welfare of society as a whole, then, the costs associated with counterfeiting appears to be far less than the benefits derived from it.
The first thing you notice about Stephanie Christian is her smile. It's big, beautiful and exposes the trademark gap between her front teeth. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she's leggy, bubbly and as sweet as pie. She also happens to be Ford Toronto's it girl.
Around 2009, Steph began her modelling career in local fashion shows and photo shoots on the East Coast. After realizing she had talent, Steph signed with local agency City Models but left within a few months due to lack of work in Nova Scotia and to focus on schooling. “But that didn't last long.” she explains, “I started reconsidering modelling and that's when I took off to Toronto.” At 21 and after just under six months of success with Ford Models, including walking in both New York's and Toronto's Fashion Weeks, Steph has relocated to New York to work with Ford NY. We sat down and asked her a few questions about life as a normal girl turned in-demand model.
Oh, George!: How did you get started modelling?
Stephanie: I hadn't ever really thought about modelling before my friend told me I should consider it. Once she planted that idea in my head that's when it all started!
OG: What's the best thing about it?
SC: It isn't your typical 9-5 job. Its gruelling running around cities going to castings, but once you get the job all the fun starts! You get to be dressed up and look pretty for a living. Who wouldn't want to do that?!
SC: The rejection. You can usually tell when you walk into a casting if they like you or not. If they ask you to hang around to take photos you know you have a good chance, but when they hand you your book back and you get a "thank-you,” that's not too good for the ol' ego. And obviously weight maintenance is a huge downer. I've never been the type who is
thin because of genetics. I have boobs and they aren't going away!
OG: Favourite job so far?
SC: It would have to be the editorial I did for Elle Canada. It was in Montreal and had a very hippy/boho feel, which is my personality to a tee. They really wanted to show my gap off so I got to be goofy and smiley the whole time.
OG: Jobs you're looking forward to?
SC: I haven't got a whole lot set in stone. You don't normally find out until closer to the dates. Right now I'm booked for teen vogue, which I am definitely looking forward to!
OG: Best place work has taken you?
SC: I haven't done a whole lot of travelling for work yet. But if you consider my move from Halifax to Toronto "travelling" then I would definitely say Toronto. It's one of the most amazing cities in the world. I have met the best people and done some crazy wicked things. Toronto is just really, really cool.
OG: Model apartments do you love 'em or hate 'em?
SC: Don't get me started. They're horrible. My experiences can't even compare to some of the stories I've heard. I'm lucky because I share a room with only one other person, but the living room is a different story. There are so many girls everywhere, barely anyone speaks English, and the age gaps are unreal. It's hard to communicate and befriend people. During fashion week was the worst because girls were just coming and going and things were getting stolen and it just wasn't very cool.
OG: I guess everyone can't share beach houses in Milan like on America's Next Top Model. Speaking of, do you watch? Thoughts on how it reflects the industry?
SC: Nah... I don't watch America's Next Top Model anymore. I've kind of lost the urge to watch it since I started modelling. They don't have to go through anything even close to what we do. I mean, I get its a TV show and things need to look glamourous, but deep into the real modelling world... its not so glamourous.
OG: Fair enough. So what's your favourite thing to do when you're not being not glamourous?
SC: I love to cook! I cook all kinds of things, but mostly seafood.
OG: Delicious, a model who's into food! So when you're cooking and just doing things in general, who are you wearing?
SC: My favourite canadian designer is Jeremy Lang and my all time favourite
is Balmain. Love Balmain.
OG:Designer or not, what are a few staples in your closet?
SC: Some different coloured blazers, leather jackets, boyfriend jeans, Sperrys, rock tees and sweatpants... let's get real here.
OG: When you came to Toronto for your initial go-sees what you were wearing?
SC: I totally remember when I was doing my rounds at agencies... It wasn't very exciting. I just had on a white tank top and high wasted jeans, which I was told wasn't a very good idea because apparently it makes your hips look bigger? Jeesh.
OG: Emotional damage aside, I know modelling can also be pretty hard on your hair and skin with all of the makeup and product and torture. How do you keep yourself looking fabulous?
SC: I always take my makeup off as soon as possible and load up with moisturizer. When Im not modelling I try not to wear any makeup at all so I can let my skin breathe.
OG: Do you keep anything in your makeup bag?
SC: MAC foundation, mascara, clear brown gel, a brown powder for my eyebrows, and some bronzer. Nothing special.
OG: Ok last one, your house is on fire and you can only grab 5 things, what do you take?
SC: Hmmm.... I've never really thought about that before! After I made sure everyone was out, I'd grab my laptop, my phone, my passport, my cinnamon toast crunch, and my Sperrys
Thursday, November 04, 2010
That’s when the skin baring begins and the ladies whip out the shorts and minis and on a blistering day, some even topless. But imagine a city where you couldn’t bare a little extra skin? What would that entail on today’s modern young women?
The Italian town of Castellammare di Stabia is considering just this as reported in an October Globe and Mail article by Dave McGinn. The town’s Mayor Luigi Bobbio states this will help to “restore urban decorum and facilitate better civil co-existence”.
This was also in gesture of the federal government handing down new municipal powers to create new laws that in turn are believed to cut down on crime and anti-social behaviour.
That said, it will target people who are “rowdy, unruly or simply bad behaved”. Anyone caught violating the laws will face between $35 and $700 in fines.
Is what we wear considered liable to situations we are put into? Does it pose a sense of danger to females?
A few George Brown College students offer some insight.
Fashion designs and techniques student, Laura says, “It’s not something to provoke you.”
“[That’s] a mentality. It has nothing to do with what you’re wearing,” says Amanda, also a fashion designs and techniques student.
Madelyne, a fashion management student also agrees that it has nothing to do with what you wear.
For a city as big as Toronto, would this cause young women to enrage with frustration or would they simply abide by another new bylaw? Better yet, would this even last long?
Some George Brown College female students think a ban this tier would be impossible.
“So many of the politicians in this country are conservative, but Toronto is the fashion capital of Canada. You’re taking away our rights,” says Laura.
Erika, a fashion management student agrees. “There’s no freedom and it’s restricting. This is a free country [and] it’s taking away our freedom of expression.”
For some students, it wouldn’t change anything.
“It might stop some cat calling but that’s about it, it won’t change much,” says Madelyne.
For many of the students interviewed, a ban like this wouldn’t last long anyway. In a Globe and mail article in August, stated that a similar ban in a Chilean region was just lifted, proving of its lack of longevity.
Within the region of Coquimbo, Chile, the ban on miniskirts worn by public employees was lifted in August. Governor Sergio Gahona retorted that putting things in order was the main reason behind the ban and he didn’t mean to restrict anyone as stated.
This lift was followed after hundreds of Chilean women protested against the ban along with the disagreement of Chile’s women’s affairs minister, Carolina Schmidt calling his prohibit a joke.
In Toronto, it seems this latter would be difficult to set as women are legally permitted to walk the streets topless. This law has been in effect since 1996 after Gwen Jacobs won a four year court battle against the Supreme Court for exposing her breasts in public stated in an August Toronto Star article by Adam Dempsey.
Arrested in 1991, Jacobs, 19 years old at the time was detained for indecent exposure of her breasts.
This was a result of walking by a few male students playing sports on a hot summer day and wondering why women were still unequal to men. For her, it was a “basic human rights issue”.
That said, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom states that right number 15, under the Equality Rights, “every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.”
So what was all the hassle about?
That was not the case for the Crown Attorney and media whom relished the obvious sexual connotation of exposing a woman’s breasts at the time. For Jacobs, the act wasn’t how the media portrayed it to be. In fact, it was a change in how she viewed herself.
“It truly is a liberating experience. When I took off my shirt, I actually took off the definition of who I was supposed to be,” she said, stated in the same article.
For Jacobs, it was the changing role female role in a society that was and still is rapidly evolving. As a female, making her own choice in the stance of equality and self expression then facing the repercussions. A notion much like what was stated by the George Brown female students.
Fatima, another fashion management student puts it into perspective, “it’s your decision at the end of the day.”
Tattoos are a lifelong commitment. It is no doubt that over the years people change and develop different interests. I know that I don’t listen to the same music, dress the same way or even like my hair colour the way it was 4 years ago, or 10 years ago and I’m sure I will change my mind within the next 20 or so. No matter how sure you are of a tattoo when you get it, it’s likely that you’re not going to feel the same way about it forever. Let’s face it, first impressions really do matter and not everyone you’re going to meet is going to be accepting of your body art. Even though, people are more accepting now of tattoos than ever before, they are still likely to influence people’s opinions of you and your reputation in general. Tattoos are not allowed in many different work places and by covering your body in tattoos it is possible that you will be denied job opportunities based on this.
Tattoos can also be risky to your health. There is a possibility that the person tattooing you may have little to no experience and that the shop where you are getting tattooed is not properly cleaning equipment. If a tattoo is executed in an unsanitary way or if you do not follow proper aftercare procedures it is possible that you could risk an infection. Also dark ink can make it harder to detect skin cancer if it is to occur in a person who has tattoos.
While it is not uncommon for tattoo studios to charge 100 dollars an hour tattooing can become a very expensive undertaking. Especially if you’re getting a large piece and may have to come in for 2 or 3 sessions, each being hours long. Before getting a tattoo it is important to make sure you are able to deal with the financial repercussions of this decision.
However, in today’s world as a society in general we are more accepting of tattooing then we have ever been. It is becoming increasingly common for people to be allowed tattoos in the workplace. More people are accepting of tattoos and less likely to make judgements on you based on your body art then any time previously. Having a tattoo can allow people to express themselves in a meaningful way. Tattoos are a way for people to share triumphs and accomplishments with the world around them and provide recipients with a sense of pride. Tattoos can also be a way to provide tribute to people and events that have effected you in a meaningful way and serve as a reminder.
Tattoos also can provide people with a sense of belonging. They provide a common interest and similarity between many diverse people and may help to feel as if they are part of a group of people and leave them with feelings of acceptance.
Many people believe that tattoos are a way of expressing their personal freedom and they should not be denied of this right. In a society where yesterdays taboos- women voting, all races being equal, skirts above the knee, allowing tattoos in the workplace and society seems like a small issue when compared to past events. We are a society who claims that our people are free. If this is the case then why should people be limited as to what they display on their bodies?
Tattooing is also considered to be an artwork by many people. Having a tattoo is similar to have a custom artwork. No two tattoos will ever be exactly the same and it takes a lot of skill and practice to produce a good tattoo.
So before you decide to get inked take some time before making a decision. A tattoo is something that should never be done on impulsive. A successful tattoo experience requires quite a bit of thought and research to find a shop and artist who is going to meet your needs. If you take the right precautions and keep the previous points in mind your likely to end up happy with your results and maybe even back for more. So sit down and get ready to take it all in because for now it looks like tattoos are here to stay.
Back in the days of “white is the norm” assumptions, when flesh crayons were the color of white people and "invisible" makeup and nude pantyhose were manufactured in the hues of Caucasian skin, the decision made by most of society to ignore whole segments of the human race went unchallenged for decades before the civil rights movement came along. According to TargetMarketNews.com, although African American, Asian, and Latino women in the United States spend more than $20 billion on apparel each year, it is hard to detect an awareness of this fact on the part of designers showing in the fashion capitals around the world, where ethnic faces are more absent from runways than they have been in years.
This topic is discussed more extensively when it comes to models. Diane von Furstenberg, designer and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDC), issued a memo to designers urging them to create fashion shows that are "truly multicultural." But the ugly fact is that most fashion houses express an overt preference for white faces, features and a certain type of frame. Furstenberg can boast that she indeed practices what she preaches – she constantly includes models of all ethnicity in her shows. However, the same cannot be said for most of her peers. If anything the lack of diversity among top models shows that something very disturbing is happening to the idea of beauty within the industry. A different side of the industry is now being exposed. The brief golden age of the 80s and 90s which showed catwalks that were much richer in ethnic diversity are now over. Some of the world’s top models included the infamous Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Iman, and Alex Wek. Naomi Campbell is particularly critical of this trend, even going as far as threatening to set up a modelling agency just for black women. Today, models can be turned down at go sees because the particular collection only needs Caucasians or that they have chosen not to use any black models – a statement which many black models have taken offence because it describes them as being some kind of category. Excluding coloured models like this only turns them into a stereotype, as though they are only needed when an “ethnic” or “urban” collection walks the runway. Yet, many designers argue that the models they use in their shows are chosen to reflect their target market or to cater to their desired demographic, not because of racial preference. But what kind of thought process is this? Who is to say that a black, Asian or Latina woman would not be interested to buy a Louis Vuitton or Ralph Lauren piece? These brands may have traditionally been popular with a predominately white market, but in the times we live in now, most of us may have assumed that this kind of thinking was finished.
According to a February 2008 article in the Independent newspaper, Carole White, co-founder of Premier Model Management, which supplies models to top fashion brands, admitted that finding work for black clients was significantly harder than for the white models, because both magazines and fashion designers were reluctant to employ them. It is clear that in all aspects of this business you are pressured to supply what sells. Many casting agents openly admit that blondes and brunettes are preferred. However, some designers said it was their artistic right to choose the color and body shapes that matched their fashion styles. To some, the issue of not using any black or ethnic models is being over analyzed. The question is, can designers actually be labelled as racists if they choose not to use models of all ethnicities in their show? The fact is, if their intentions behind their decision are not fuelled by hate, but rather just a preference of “body type” or skin colour that would best match their collection, they shouldn’t be labelled as such. But many still don’t agree with this reasoning either. In the modern age that we live in now, why can’t everyone be included? Models of other backgrounds should not have to be subjected to being shunned to the sidelines or hesitantly picked last like this was an elementary school gym class. The fashion industry is such a juggernaut in our social culture, it decides what’s hot and what’s not, who to be looking at and what we can expect for the future. Personally, it would be nice to see the industry embrace beauty from all corners of the world, not continuing to push the stereotypical notion of what most of us consider to be beautiful. The message is to be brave, forget about the past, and start taking those small steps which will make the fashion industry more universal.
An interview with up-and-coming designer Lara Vincent.
Lara Vincent, a twenty-six year old native of Winnipeg, came to Toronto to pursue her love of design. After completing her degree in fashion design at Ryerson University, Lara went on to study the art of millinery at both George Brown College, and Central St. Martins, in London. She has since lived in New York working for designer (and idol) Betsey Johnson, and has developed a line of hats and headdresses that have been featured in publications like Woman’s Wear Daily, Fashion and Elle Canada. Lara is now back in Toronto, working hard and dreaming big. Miss Vincent’s enchanting collections, all marked by ethereal detail, are wearable art.
For those who aren't familiar with what you do, what is it that you are creating?
I am a magic maker, but I channel the magic through hats and headdresses.
I read on your website, that your headpieces are partly inspired by a book. How do these imaginative pieces come to life?
While studying at Central St Martins in London, I learnt the techniques to put my ideas into form, the Charles Baudelaire book of poems was one of my inspirations for a collection I made that summer .
How long does it take to create each piece?
Each headdress takes about two days. I put a lot of heart into everything I make, it may take longer but I am critical of my work and only want to create at my best.
What is your state of mind when working on your creations? When do you work best?
I work best in the early morning and late evening, it’s when I am most clear and feel the most inspired, either from my dreams at night or my travels through the day.
Do you listen to music when you're working?
Always music. And always a rotation of old and newer. My music rotation right now is Pedro the Lion, Glass Candy, Peter Bjorn and John, and The Travelling Willburies.
Where do you go to buy your fabrics and materials? Do you ever source materials and trimmings internationally?
I buy the leathers and suede from a shop in Toronto and a store in New york. The little good luck charms I collect from all over. There is a magical shop in New York called House of Cards, that’s one of my favorites. Recently I was in Austin, TX, and picked up a bunch of Day of the the Dead [A Latin American Holiday] goodies I use for inspiration.
This year, you were featured in WWD, what was it like seeing your pieces in the so-called bible of fashion?
I got goosebumps. The good kind.
You've lived in Toronto for quite some time now. Have you seen any changes in the fashion industry since you moved?
Not too much. I have worked at Betsey Johnson for six years, and from the retail point of view, Toronto is as good as ever. Toronto has always been one of my favorite cities to shop in.
What was it like interning for Betsey Johnson in New York?
Betsey was amazing to work with. She would skip in every day singing hay hoe through the halls. I always dreamt of it when I was younger, so it was nice to live that dream.
You've lived in New York, London and Toronto. How does the young designer scene differ in each city?
I think it’s all kinda the same, we’re all little pearls in an oyster.
Whose head would you most like to place one of your creations on?
I am most happy when I walk down the street and pass a girl in one. Nothing beats that.
My grandmother has an amazing collection of hats and once told me that she used to never leave the house without one. These days, you don't see as nearly as many hats on men and women. Why do you think that is?
I think in the past few years the hat has made a bit of a comeback. But back in grandma days, sweatpants didn’t exist. I think that has a lot to do with it. Just different times. . .
Do you have any future plans to design a clothing line?
Yeah, I love to make dresses. Lots and lots of dresses.
Do you think, these days, that it is necessary for young designer-entrepreneurs to participate in social media? Do you tweet?
I don’t tweet. I am sure it would help my business if I tweeted, but I'm just not ready for that yet. One step at a time.
You once walked the halls of George Brown College yourself. Any words of wisdom to current George Brown students?
Hmm, I think the most important part of a creative education is to not concern yourself with grades. To learn as much as you can, and to read all your text books, but when things wrap up at the end of the term, you need to stay true to yourself, and grow as an individual.
Bare Necessities: To Sell or Not To Sell
We are surrounded by more and more different forms of advertising every day. Billboards, signs, magazine covers – each form of media desperately competing for a piece of mind share. It is a fact that many people are drawn to images of half naked and even bare naked men and women who in some way are suppose to stimulate us to get us to purchase products that they endorse. True, this strategy is an attention-grabber and it tends to be popular in advertising. However, the real question is: “Does sex effectively sell”?
While browsing through piles of advertisements, one must ask themselves if people really care about models going bare. What is so interesting about nude models on the covers of different fashion magazines? Gone seem the days when bare naked models would just appear inside a copy of Playboy or Penthouse Magazine! There is a good and a bad side to the world of nudity in fashion advertising. It would appear that designer clothing and the latest trends isn’t what’s making the cover of fashion magazines nowadays.
Everyday we are greeted by magazine covers of celebrities and models who bare it all “in the name of fashion.” Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, who is a famous reality TV star, recently posed for a November 2010 cover for W Magazine. The issue was W Magazine's Annual “Art Issue.” Ms. Kardashian was wearing – well nothing at all except silver body paint! According to an interview for Harpers Bazaar, she was “sorry” she stripped down for Playboy Magazine back in 2007. However, she believed that posing nude for W Magazine was a different scenario since she had her mother, Kris Jenner's support and eagerly telling Ms. Kardashian to “Go for it!.” This pattern of “baring it all,” doesn't end in print or billboard, it also occurs in runways especially during Fashion Week.
Designer Charlie Le Mindu showcased his hat wear collection during London Fashion Week 2010 by sending models down his runways stark naked with nothing but his headwear accessories. Le Mindu is well known as a wigmaker and one of his most famous clients is the famous singer, Lady Gaga. Le Mindu told a magazine that the objective of this runway show was to, “emphasize more on the headwear collection rather than the nude figures.”
It’s self-evident that sex appeal can increase the effectiveness of an ad or marketing campaign because it attracts customer's attention. It is after all human nature to be curious about sex therefore increasing the potential of selling a product. For example, a well-built male model can appeal to a female audience and a buxom female model with long legs can appeal to a male audience. These are images that we face more and more every day. The perception it projects that this is the norm, when in reality the majority of the population don’t look anything like the models in advertisements is nothing to be debated. Using sex appeal seems to lead some consumers to be more insecure about their own looks.
Despite the fact that using sex appeal can rake in big profits and draw a potential new consumer base to your product, the misuse of sex appeal can be very costly. Many advertising companies have gone under due to the backlash of using sex as a tool in their advertising campaigns. In May 2009, Cunning Stunts, an agency that was responsible for one of the most memorable publicity stunts in the 1990s, closed for business. Their stunt consisted of projecting a nude image of a former TV host in London, Gail Porter, on the House of Parliament in 1999 for FHM Magazine. Cunning Stunts closed up shop due to the fact that not many people understood the way they projected their marketing stunts. According to Cunning Stunts founder, Anna Carloss, the PR agency had to fold since a major client had pulled the plug at the end of 2009 and the agency had failed to recover. This proves that sometimes not everyone will relate to your ideas and out-of-the-box theories.
On a more positive note, nakedness in the advertising world doesn’t need to be all that pessimistic. Take Mark for example, he helped raise $50,000 for testicular cancer awareness and all the while he had one mission to accomplish: stay at home for 25 days in his underwear! Yes, Mark, an average person like you and me spent 25 entire days advertising on the social sphere and with the help of one of the oldest form of advertising, word of mouth, attained his objective for his dear cause while only wearing Stanfield’s underwear. So, while we have the typical naked model on the cover of a magazine to stimulate your attention, there are definitely other creative ways to grab people’s attention.
So to conclude of all this, I think it’s fair to say that I don’t anticipate seeing naked models fade out anytime soon, it is interesting to see that perhaps a more creative and thoughtful way of using sex appeal through advertising will take on the job of stimulating our brain. The fact that we know by now that sex does sell, most of us just want that feeling of being attractive and sexy or do sexy things. Thus, it seems like a pretty firm strategy to push and sell items using sex appeal. One wonders what the future holds. Is this the future of fashion? Are all values of self image and self respect gone to oblivion? The days of covering up and being modest or shy are long overdue. Wherever you turn advertisers use sex appeal everywhere. This student is longing to see the days when ads made you laugh and were memorable without being racy or raunchy. Call me old fashioned. However, I still believe in the good ol' values and the mystery behind everyone, “underneath it all.” Although some may find this article to be of bland nature, perhaps what sold you were the pictures.
Hear me Roar
Gutsy female vocalists are vying their way back up the pop charts
For the first time in several long years that have been dominated by female pop-music drivel, strong female vocalists are emerging onto the music scene en mass. Although they are still the exception and not the rule, there are inspiring new voices on the scene. Now artists like Ke$ha and Christina Aguilera have Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, and Marina Diamandis of Marina and the Diamonds, to contend with. Both Welch and Diamandis write their own music and perform fully clothed (which is a welcome change in these days of pant-less pop stars). Yet, perhaps surprisingly, they are garnering widespread public attention as well as critical acclaim. There seems to be an inclination toward the acceptance of female vocals and songwriting into main-steam music again.
Make no mistake, evil forces such as Katy Perry’s candyland-themed video for Teenage Dream and her whipped cream shooting breasts are still trying hard to keep female pop in the over-sexualized pigeon hole it has been so comfortable residing in. It may be too early to tell, but the trend toward featuring authentic, female songwriters is a long-awaited move away from the pre-fab bubblegum pop we’re so used to hearing on mainstream radio. Unorthodox female artists like Kate Nash, Welch, and Diamandis are garnering serious attention on traditionally fluff-filled, music charts and radio stations.
So where have they been hiding for the past several years?
Is this a question of record companies hesitating to back up strong female artists after the overwhelming success of pop-tarts and teen queen’s that have dominated the charts? As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. And with the exception of some truly exciting female songwriters in the mid 90’s(Tory Amos and Liz Phair come to mind), female pop has been following a fairly strict equation for success that involves creating “talent” from the Frankenstein mould, predetermined by record execs. Like Miley Cyrus, for the past several years, these label-created, wet dreams of female talent just “couldn’t be tamed”– until now.
Sam Machkoveck’s recent article “Beyond Gaga”, in The Atlantic, covers gutsy, female songwriter Alexis Krauss of Brooklyn act, Sleigh Bells. Machkoveck sums up this notion of consistently dismal, female pop careers, observing that many of [Krauss’] bubble-gum-pop peers did their damnedest to emerge from their careers as "mature," only to look pathetic and exploited; think Britney Spears sweating in a loft full of half-naked men in the "I'm A Slave 4 U" video, or even Miley Cyrus slithering around in a birdcage in her latest attempt at maturity. It seems as though record companies are more interested in making a quick buck rather than selecting and developing female artists for long term careers. Which leads to another question about the emergence of female music talent: “the Lady Gaga Effect”.
Has Gaga made it OK for smart female artists to be relevant again? Gaga certainly doesn’t shy away from controversy – in fact, most would argue that she has built a career out of causing controversy. Nor does she shy away from what some would consider traditionally masculine traits for a pop princess. She is out-spoken, aggressive, driven, and quite fearless in her quest for pop music domination. Quite a departure from her sickly sweet pop peers. Gaga has certainly received her fare share of credit for driving female pop in a different and possibly more thoughtful direction.
That being said, don’t be too quick to jump on this bandwagon of thinking.
Gaga for electro-dripping dance parties in your apartment - yes, but for lyrics that make you think and force you to play songs on repeat because the lyrics are just so damn clever -not so much. From her creative costumes; often the product of partnerships with couture houses (Uncle Karl can’t get enough of her) to her stage performances (at times transcendent and more suitably identified as performance art than award show fluff), Lady Gaga has undoubtedly broadened the public’s perception by offering a different image of mainstream pop.
However, Gaga is no Stevie Nicks. Leotards and catchy pop tunes don’t inspire me toward personal reflection the way that Welch’s songwriting talents do. I also find it rather unfortunate that Gaga had to stop wearing pants and shoot fireworks out of her bra to get attention from mass media. Although many claim Gaga had to comply with record label direction until she reached mega-stardom to get her “real” message across, this doesn’t seem to be the case when it comes to Welch, Diamondis, Nash and Krauss.
In fact, both Welch and Diamondis received most of their early support from the BBC. Welch was promoted as part of “BBC Introducing” a showcase for new artists, and Diamondis rose to fame after reaching number two on The BBC Sound of 2010 poll list. Each of them went on to top pop charts around the world and had extremely successful record releases in 2010. Perhaps this is an issue of lack of support for gifted female writing and vocal talent. The CBC is chronically late in “introducing” and featuring exciting Canadian talent. A station comparable to BBC Radio One does exist in Canada; however, CBC Radio 3, which features new Canadian independent pop, rock, electronic and hip hop musicians is only broadcast on satellite radio, limiting potential exposure to great new acts.
Be it a lack of record label support worldwide or a lack of viable avenues for exposure of new artists in Canada, it would be nice to think this trend in featuring legitimate female songwriting and vocal talent will continue to be represented in popular music. It’s about time for pop music to offer more than a one-dimensional representation of women in music.
A closer look at Lily Nguyen of Bleed for Fashion's thoughts on fashion
Fashion bloggers have quickly become the latest trend in fashion, with the likes of fashion editors and designers looking more towards them for inspiration and direction. Bloggers often post about their inspiration, but most importantly they share their personal style through an array of striking images that captivate the viewer. With the majority of popular bloggers located in fashion capitals of the world like New York and Paris one could overlook our amazing home-grown style mavens.
Lily Nguyen of Bleed for Fashion is just that – a style maven who isn’t afraid to stand out in a sea of ordinary. An attendee at Vancouver's Blanche Macdonald Centre, Lily was enrolled in their Fashion Merchandising program. The 22 year old, Vancouver-based fashionista’s clean, bold and edgy style transcends even into the style of pictures she takes (usually a stark white background that allows the outfit to be the primary focus). Hailing from Vancouver, a city known for its laid back attitude towards life (no -where near as outrageous as New York or Paris), it is clear to see that Lily’s outfits are always head-turners wherever she goes. Whether she’s sporting a pair of Burberry Porsum boots and a striped top or hanging out in her American Apparel hoodie and jeans, Lily is always able to leave a lasting impression with her style choices. Equipped with a jealousy-inducing shoe arsenal, a bad girl attitude, and a flawlessly endearing face, it will be hard to tear your eyes away from the screen whilst scrolling through her blog. Lily’s blog will not only provide you with ample amounts of eye-candy but also a glimmer of personal insight as to who she is.
I recently had the opportunity to ask the successful Canadian blogger some questions and was able to see her honest and concise answers.
1. How would you describe your style? I've grown tired of this question. I never understood why people care how I'd describe my style. It's however you interpret it. Next!
2. Since you started the blog, do you feel as if your style has evolved? If so, how? My style is always evolving. Fashion is a continuous process of reinvention and change, and thank God for it. My blog just happened to be there to capture it.
3. Who influences your style? Everyday people.
4. What triggers your most creative moments? Whenever I'm alone with my thoughts.
5. Do you have a process to creating an outfit? Yes. I check the weather first.
6. What do you feel are 5 keys pieces to successful wardrobe and why? I don't feel there is such a thing as "key pieces". I do, however, believe for anything to be successful, you need to have confidence (and good underwear). Wear your clothes; don't let your clothes wear you.
7. Are there any accessories you feel uncomfortable leaving the house without? No, not really. I often never leave home without a watch and/or a chunky scarf, though.
8. How do you stay fashionable in the winter? I like to layer a lot, does that count?
9. Do you have any advice for those still honing in on their own personal style? Dress how you feel and stop caring what others think. Fashion should be fun, and I guarantee you it's a lot more enjoyable when you don't give a shit.
10. If there is one thing you could improve/change/evolve in the industry, what would it be? Put an end to sweatshop labour, i.e. Forever 21. I'd also like to make Coach and Ed Hardy disappear, but I won't get into that now.
Lily’s answers were clear, bold, fearless, and cheeky much like her personal style. It is clear that she doesn’t waste much time worrying about fashion but spends much more time enjoying it. She also addresses a very real issue of sweatshop labour that makes stores like Forever 21 (a brand she never wears) so wealthy. If you were intrigued by the interview I encourage you to take a look at Lily’s blog at http://www.bleedforfashion.com/. Look out for many great things from this fashion blogger as I am sure she isn’t finished leaving her mark on the industry.
I think there is a certain importance we must place on showcasing home-grown talent as Canadians are often overlooked in the Fashion industry. By supporting our fellow Canadians we are able to level out the worldwide playing field. Bloggers located in the United States as well as overseas have become important to the industry as they are a new medium to reach consumers; with blogger collaborations as well as features in magazines, bloggers are becoming more and more useful in making brands relevant as well as successful. Coach recently did a blogger collaboration as well as Forever21. If we can encourage more viewership to Canadian blogs we will in turn be encouraging the world to see Canadian style as more than just parkas and snow boots.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Label vs. Look
The obsession behind designer labels.
Every where you look young and old most people are wearing designer labels. There are many reasons for this. Let’s compare two different people wearing the same product. An 18 year old high school girl and a 38 year old professional wearing the same designer jeans, do they have the same motives regarding why they bought this item? Most would think the 18 year old would wear the designer jeans for status reasons or to fit in at school as the 38 year old professional would wear them for comfort, quality and fit. They both could be wearing the jeans just for the label itself, it’s really hard to determine why people choose the labels they do, regardless when it comes to labels people enjoy spending the money on them.
There is psychology behind the clothing we buy when it comes to designer labels, but what about those who refuse to wear labels but still get the look.
CollegeCandy.com beleives that there are a few main reasons behind why people are buying designer clothes.
Quality of the product. Most designer jeans for example tend to be a great fit and have great quality denim. Seven jeans for example look great, have great quality and last so you get your bang for your buck.
Consistency when buying high quality items you know what to expect. Some people tend to stick to one designer over the other because of quality and fit and they are comfortable with this particular brand over another.
Status- To be a part of en elite group, most people can’t afford designer labels therefore you get noticed through the clothes you wear. In my opinion, this isn’t always a positive thing, this also applies to those who are just not fashion savvy or just want to noticed in through the clothes they wear. Everyone notices labels whether good or bad. Some people only wear labels and can over kill a particular brand or two, while others are unaware of how to pull an outfit together so brands are easy for them. A major downfall to this is the turn over of some particular brands, this method of styling could become very pricy as new designers are emerging everyday.
Another factor behind the labels are celebrities. Everywhere you look such as television and magazines you see celebrities in designer items. We all dream of the glam celebrity life, or just at least to wear the clothes! Some people feel “cool” if they can afford something a celebrity is wearing but is it worth it to spend all the doe? Others disagree designer labels doesn’t seem to be everything; others and have a more realistic outlook when buying clothes.
Not all designer labels offer quality fit and are bang for your buck. As mentioned earlier some tend to buy designer labels just because of the name but don’t know they are paying for the marketing costs of that particular brand.
Most need to be educated when buying an item. For example when men go suit shopping they tend to go for a label that is familiar instead of looking for quality and fit. Most men are unaware of the technicality and construction of a suit. There is a major difference in quality such as fuzed and canvas suits. Most men would pick the Boss suit for example because of its fit but may not know the construction behind it and be unaware there are other suits that have the same fit, are designed better and cost less.
A column on line called CollegeFashion.net offers six helpful hints on how to drop the label obsession and how to really think outside the box when it comes to real quality and style.
2.Take the time to understand what’s flattering on you
3.Shop with a look in mind
4.Let celebrities inspire you, but don’t worry about exact pieces
5.Read street style blogs
6.Be honest with yourself
“Ultimately, breaking the label obsession requires not only changing your habits but your mindset”- College Fashions.
Helpful hints are always necessary when it comes to style. Everyone likes a little help and guidance. Not everyone is born a fashionista, we all get our inspirations from somewhere or something and some need a little more help then others.
There will always be two sides to this fashion combat but not everyone is the same. Some love designer clothes because it makes them feel good or they love the quality of the clothing and others are happy with making a style of their own which is unique and not pricy.
“Fashion is Art” so play with it. Don’t shadow a style or buy labels for the name. Get inspired and brand yourself, fashion is all about making a statement but in your own unique way.
There are many ways of getting the look without breaking the bank. Fashion is all about wearing your personality so define yourself and wear it!
When most Canadians hear the words, “Animal testing”, we think it to be something of the past. After all, for years we have been seeing symbols and references to “No animal cruelty” on our shampoos, shower gels and makeup products. Surely the beauty industry has not been lying to us and making false statements about how their products are made and what effects these products have on animals, right? Wrong. According to research, beauty companies have been keeping mum regarding their testing practices – even though packaging and promotion of their products would lead consumers to believe their merchandise is ethically and humanely produced. But why is the beauty industry pulling the wool over the public’s eyes when it comes to animal testing? Is it possible to create animal-friendly beauty products, and are some companies stepping up to the plate?
Animal testing for cosmetic purposes first began in the 1920’s and continued until 1989. That year, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) began a campaign against product testing on animals that revealed the appalling horrors that resulted in animal testing. Disturbing video footage was released of rabbits, dogs and cats who had been badly injured or killed after having damaging chemicals used on them by cosmetics companies to test their products. PETA published reports that Avon, a well-established and seemingly reputable company, alone had killed more than 52,000 animals between 1981 and 1987 using animal tests to determine whether or not Avon products were safe for human use. The public was finally exposed to the realities of the beauty industry, and appalled customers demanded ethical products. Benetton Cosmetics was the first to act, announcing a permanent ban on all use of animals; Avon and Revlon were quick to follow.
Today, PETA lists hundreds of cruelty-free companies on their website, but still states that “No specific laws exist regarding cruelty-free labeling of products, so companies can take liberties. While it is unlikely that a company would put blatantly false information regarding its animal-testing practices on its products, the statements it does make may not be fully informative and may indeed mislead consumers”. For example, though Clairol Herbal Essences shampoo is not tested on animals, other Clairol products are. It can be confusing for consumers to comprehend which products are, in fact, cruelty-free.
Shockingly, highly regarded beauty companies continue to test on animals to this day. Culprits also include beauty giants such as Johnson & Johnson (who own Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Lubriderm, Neutrogena, and more) and L’Oreal Paris (makers of Garnier, Lancome and Maybelline, among others). I was recently assured by a cosmetics representative that the company did not test on animals, yet said company fell under the umbrella of another company that does test on animals. When faced with this puzzlement, I asked a former representative of a large skincare company, for an explanation. Company X, as we will call it, claims to use high quality, natural ingredients in their cosmetic products, but is owned by a large company that does test on animals. Company X, I was told “does not test the end product on animals, and so they claim to be cruelty-free. But the ingredients in the products were outsourced, so it was unclear if the entirety of the merchandise was free of animal testing. For example, we didn’t know where the stearate used in our skin creams came from – and it’s very likely it came from a facility that was not cruelty-free.”
Why do cosmetics companies test products and chemicals, unnecessarily and cruelly, on animals? Many companies are fearful of lawsuits from consumers who have been injured using their products. Companies would much rather test on animals than lose money from consumers in lawsuits. And although non-animal chemical testing has been proven to be far superior than testing on animals, many companies are still reluctant to change methods they have been using for decades.
And why should companies change their testing procedures in order to provide consumers with a more ethical product? Unlike the European Union, who is in the process of phasing out all cosmetic animal testing, Canada has no laws banning the abuse of animals in the beauty industry. While there are regulations regarding the treatment of animals in medical testing environments, the guidelines are unclear for the testing of cosmetics.
So, how can we discourage the use of animal testing on beauty products while still using reliable products? As consumers, we have the power to demand quality, ethical products from the cosmetics industry. In order to see a change in companies usage of animal testing, the public must stop buying products from companies that are not cruelty-free. Though many products boast labels claiming to be “cruelty-free” and “not tested on animals”, the opposite is often true. PETA has a reputable online database naming and shaming companies that test on animals. And not to worry, the list of real “cruelty-free” companies is not only ten times bigger than the former, it is also growing quickly. Who said beauty couldn’t be pain-less?
Skin, and bones, and fashion! Oh, my!
Are underweight models, portrayed on runways and ads, promoting an unhealthy body image for young women, or is it simply an uncontrollable ever changing trend in the fashion industry?
Let’s look back to the times when models were infamous for their diva behaviours, incriminating tales of drug use and notorious bad choices in men. The models of today are now showing up in tabloids, not for their off the runway antics but instead for their reputation of being notoriously thin on the runway.
Let’s face it, thin is in-the dramatically low weight of these size zero models has recently sparked controversy over their dangerous influence over admiring young women. Therefore, we must ask ourselves what influence body image has on young minds today, where ideals originated, and ultimately debate if anyone can truly be put at fault.
This past summer, Urban Outfitters was forced to remove a t-shirt bearing the slogan, “Eat Less” from their websites, following complaints that it carried a pro-anorexia offensive message. Designer advertisements in magazines have also been known to carry similar messages .They seem to be at fault for portraying skinny models that do not resemble the average women, therefore giving emphasis to the ideal that thinness is beauty.
According to a recent article from About.com on how media affects teen body image, models generally weigh 23% less than the average women. In addition, while the average height and weight for a model is 5'10" and 110 lbs., the height and weight for the average woman is 5'4" and 145 lbs. It is simple to see where teens are getting these twisted messages from the media on body image, as the average person in the United States sees approximately 3,000 ads in magazines, billboards, and television daily.
This debate over unhealthy looking models has been at the forefront of the fashion industry for the past few years. In 2006, at the Madrid Fashion Week, organizers in an attempt to discourage bad eating habits, attempted to project an image of beauty and health. They therefore had all models have their Body Mass Index (BMI) checked to ensure they were at an acceptable level to be able to participate in any shows. Other shows followed suit, angering design houses who felt they were not able to showcase their work in their preferred way.
Many feel as though the fashion world should be held accountable for creating an environment whereas models are needed to be an unhealthy, unrealistic size in order to work. The reality is the fashion industry has too strong a hold on society, whereas at an early age young girls begin to associate beauty with a certain body image.
The question is who is to say what the correct, healthy body type is when the ideal changes with time. According to a September 8th article from Wisegeek.com, fashion model figures have continually changed over time. In comparing 1960`s models to today sizes show that the average model in the 1960`s was about 5’7” and weighted approximately 129 pounds. Currently average fashion models are two inches taller and weigh about 114 pounds. However, the healthy look of the 1960’s would soon change with the emergence of the 91 pound model Twiggy, who was someone many naturally thin young women could finally relate to. In the 1980’s models returned to a somewhat healthier BMI with models such as Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford. But again things changed in the 1990’s and has continued into the 2000’s beginning with the “heroin chic” look pioneered by model Kate Moss. Therefore, shapes change with time and who is to say what the next ideal figure will be. Nevertheless, it is clear that people will never be satisfied with any one ideal body.
It is also difficult to generalize the fashion industry as a whole when different designers use different body shapes. Some designers prefer a very slim figure because they feel it is the best figure to present their work. While others use a variety of women with different looks, sizes and body shapes. Most recently, Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2010 collection, showcased more shapely models of the past such as Elle Macpherson and Christy Turlington.
It is also untrue that the fashion industry is the main influencer on young women. Media outlets such as tabloids and celebrity gossip news criticize on a daily basis its female celebrities for such things as having a bad hair day, for losing too much weight, and for gaining too much weight. They are creating an impossible standard of perfection for anyone to live up to.
There are some who believe that controlling models BMI is a successful way to control any unhealthy models from walking in a show, however these weight restrictions can be ineffective. As reported by idebate.org’s Ella Robertson (June 19th, 2010), “BMI only takes into account weight and height but not bone density and fat percentage. Many models are teenagers who eat normally but are naturally skinny”. Also, many feel that these models are grown women who have the right to make their own decisions about their bodies and ultimately their careers. In comparison, just as a pro- athlete or actor make sacrifices over many years for pursuing their ultimate dream as does a model.
Ultimately, it is difficult to hold the fashion industry or simply models accountable for being the sole bad influence on young minds of today. Other supposed role models of today such as rock stars, athletes, and actors make a more significant impact in the popular media today with their bad choices. They fill media coverage with bad influences after another with at times much focus on body image issues.
In the end, whether the industry is at fault or not, public opinion may be the ultimate force of change. According to a September 20th article on Glamour.com, “public opinion seems to be in favour of healthier, more fit girls on the runway and there have been some strides in that direction in the last few years”. There will continually be an impact on body image by some type of media on young women. Therefore, at the end of the day if young women are aware of the misrepresentations they are better prepared to face them.
Today it has become easier than ever to help worthy causes. Simply by buying a t-shirt from the Gap or an iPod, you can help support the fight against HIV and AIDS in Africa. Alternatively, you can support Breast Cancer research by purchasing any number of items associated with the pink ribbon campaign. With so many companies jumping on the charity bandwagon, it makes a person wonder, where is all this money going? Is the money you spent on the pink ribbon scarf, pair of TOMS shoes or product RED item actually going where it should, or is it simply increasing the company’s profit margin?
While no one can argue that providing needy children with shoes or people with medication to fight HIV and AIDS is not a worthy cause, many consumers have concerns about how their money is being used and how much is actually benefitting the people. In many cases, this information can be found on the websites of the organization that either supports a campaign such as product RED, or that has created the product movement, such as TOMS shoes.
The RED campaign is supported by a wide range of companies and products. Everything from Laptops by Dell, apparel from the Gap, iPods by Apple, even coffee from Starbucks can help with the fight against AIDS. According to the RED website, www.joinRED.com, RED partners and sponsored events have contributed more than $150 million to date. This money goes to Global Fund sponsored programs on the ground in Africa which provide medicine and support to communities and people living with HIV/AIDS. The RED website clearly states that no money is taken from this campaign for overhead of RED or the Global Fund. This is important information to know, but how much money goes from the sale of each product to RED?
In a February 2008 article by Ron Nixon in the New York Times, Susan Smith Ellis, the chief executive of RED explained that companies pay RED a licensing fee to label their products, they then pay a percentage of the sales to RED. The exact percentage that the company pays depends on each item and company. A quick trip to the products section of the RED website can give some information on how much is going from the sale of certain products. Gap for example donates 50% from the sale of each Gap product RED t-shirt to the Global Fund, Starbucks donates $1 USD, from the sale of its products, water bottles, tumbles and a specific blend of whole bean coffee, to the global fund. While this information is included in the write-up about Starbucks and Gap products, not all donations are so clearly stated.
What is lacking is transparency for the average consumer. In his 2008 article, Ron Nixon argues that neither RED nor the companies would disclose how much revenue came from each product or company. While many people find this lack of disclosure frustrating, at the very least it can be said that product RED does generate revenue to help fight HIV/ AIDS. Unfortunately this same statement cannot be said for all charity associated causes.
Throughout the year it is easy to spot pink ribbon items, and other products associated with Breast Cancer awareness. This is especially true in the month of October, which has been named Breast Cancer awareness month. According to a January 2009 article by Marc Lallanilla for www.about.com, no single person or company owns the copyright to the pink ribbon associated with Breast Cancer. This is troublesome to many consumers and supporters of the cause, because in theory any company could place the ribbon on their product without contributing anything to the cause.
Breast Cancer Action, an American group, started the “Think BeforeYou Pink” movement that encourages consumers to investigate the products that carry the pink ribbon. According to their website, http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/ many companies actually put a cap on how much they will donate, regardless of how many items, or how much revenue is brought in during the campaign. This was the case with White House Black Market, who sold Give Hope Jeans for $88 a pair, but capped their total donation at $200,000. Brest Cancer Action also states that in some cases; despite the item having a pink ribbon on the packaging, purchasing an item does not necessarily mean that a donation will be made. This was the case with Lean Cuisine; despite the pink ribbon logo on the box, the purchase of a meal did not result in a donation to a Breast Cancer foundation. Instead, a purchase of a pink lunchbox from the company’s website was required in order to make a donation.
While some companies do use these products as an advantage for their marketing Ken Berger, as stated in Marc Lallanilla’s 2009 article, says the majority of charities do very good work, and as with most things it is important to do your research and find out where your money is really going.
Fortunately not all these companies are charged with lacking in transparency. TOMS shoes began in 2006 after American traveler, Blake Mycoskie noticed that the children he met in Argentina didn’t have shoes to protect their feet. TOMS is based on a One for One formula, so every time you buy a pair, TOMS will donate a pair to a child in need. According to their website www.TOMS.com, as of September 2010 TOMS has given over one million new pairs of shoes to children in need.
While suspicion may make you wary of products claiming association with relief organizations, it is important to remember that information is sometimes only a click away. A quick trip to the company’s website may help to answer your questions. It’s up to you to decide if you’re happy standing behind this movement with your purchases or if you would like to contribute another way. In the end, a good question to ask yourself may be, “since I’m buying it anyway, isn’t it good that I can help someone at the same time?”