The Philanthropic Side of Fashion Brands

Lázaro Pérez-More

Today’s savvy fashion client is more aware of how brands allocate their profits, especially when it comes to donating proceeds to charity. Check out which top designers are working towards bettering the community through their philanthropic efforts.

Fashion’s long held commitment to philanthropy is well documented. An industry that was considered frivolous and elitist, has recognized that part of its business model has to include becoming cultural actors in a global stage. Fashion designers have achieved in the last 20 years a celebrity status that at times overcast that of the famous people they dress. As a result, designers have contributed to building, and even leading communities of like-minded individuals, or in this case clients, united under common philanthropic principles.Today’s savvy fashion client is more aware of how brands allocate their profits. This client is more inclined to buy that costly evening gown, especially when she already has more than she could really wear, if she knew that part of the proceeds would go to charity. It is an approach to cure shopper’s remorse. Frugality is still a virtue, even in moneyed circles, where real luxury is usually unseen. Many do not want to be seen as wasteful or irresponsible.All fashion brands today include some form of charitable giving. Lending your name to a cause that your fans endorse makes for good marketing. But many designers show real concern for the state of the world, and recognize their own power to make a difference in areas that affect them. It could be a personal experience, an epiphany, a bout with disease (their own or a relative’s) or a philosophical commitment to fairness. The fact is that giving back has never been more important for the world of fashion’s zeitgeist, as evidenced in the following examples.After the death of her husband, Stephan Weiss to cancer in 2001, Donna Karan turned her attention to funding research of holistic treatments in cancer care for both the patient and the caregiver. She founded the Urban Zen Foundation with the mission to “create, connect and collaborate to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well being, preserving cultures and empowering children in mind, body and spirit.” The work of the organization is multifold. Through carefully engineered initiatives, Urban Zen funds solutions in health care and cultural identity. They have implemented a program to integrate holistic principles and traditional eastern treatments into modern Western treatments for cancer. The aim is to treat the patient with dignity, while battling the deadly disease. The organization’s cultural programs have also brought attention and resources to the plight of the Haitian people after the devastating earthquake that destroyed the already impoverished Caribbean nation. Through art exhibits around the world, the program has raised awareness and funds for the reconstruction efforts for the country and the soul of the Haitian people.

Philanthropic Fashion Brands

Fashion and Philanthropy
1. DONNA KARAN. / Photo: Neilson Barnard.

Olivela: A Philanthropic E-Commerce Platform

The idea for Olivela, a philanthropic e-commerce platform, came to Stacey Boyd after spending time in African refugee camps in 2015. The site’s Founder and CEO flew to Kenya and Rwanda for Malala Day, where she traveled with the young Nobel laureate. Upon meeting young girls in camps that were attending makeshift schools, Boyd set her sights on bettering the lives of children on a global scale. Thus in 2017, Olivela took flight, providing consumers with a satisfying shopping experience that was able to offer more than just fashionable pieces.

“I knew then that we could unleash the equity in luxury shopping to yield benefit and opportunity for so many children around the globe. And I knew that I could draw on experience and expertise from having launched Schoola, which aims to benefit public schools in the United States,” Boyd says.

Stacey Boyd, founder of Olivela. / All images: © 2018 Olivela.

Schoola was Boyd’s first venture into e-commerce with a purpose. The organization raised funds for American schools by selling secondhand clothing. The former school principal earned her MBA & Master’s in Public Policy at Harvard University. She is a staunch believer in providing stable education for children. Through Olivela, she seeks to provide that consistency for children around the globe by merging the worlds of luxury retail and contributions.

Tommy Hilfiger: Fight Against Autism

It is estimated that one in 88 children in the United States currently has autism. Simply put, the autism spectrum is a general term for a group of complex disorders within the brain that affect social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors.

Two of the millions of children diagnosed as autistic just happen to be very close to fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger. In 2008, Tommy married his wife, Dee, and they became a blended family with 6 children. Two of these children, Tommy’s daughter, Kathleen, and Dee’s son, Alex, are both on the spectrum. The Hilfigers have since been very vocal about their personal experience with the disease. The Tommy Hilfiger Corporate Foundation provides financing for autism awareness and research. The corporation has represented the Tommy Hilfiger Group’s philanthropic interests for over 15 years, which also include programs for education, youth and families.

Tommy Hilfiger: Fight Against Autism

Dannijo: A Jewelry Brand With a Philanthropic Mission

When you take the names of the Snyder siblings, Danielle and Jodie, and put them together, you end up with Dannijo. Regardless of how the mechanics of this hybrid name (Danni + Jo) fit together, the brand—and the handcrafted accessories their forward—looking company creates for the fashion world—work incredibly well. From dazzling bracelets and earrings to imaginative bib necklaces, handbags, chokers and more, the items these two sisters design and produce brim over with elegance and style.

dannijo, luxury jewelry, jewelry design, danielle snyder, jodie snyder, abigail spencer, beyoncé, misty copeland, rihanna, taylor swift, indego africa, women empowerment, celebrity designers, organizations helping women, women issues
Jodie and Danielle Snyder.

In addition to an impressive collection of bodily adornments, which has garnered the attention of quite a few well-known trendsetters, from Abigail Spencer and Beyoncé to Misty Copeland, Rihanna and Taylor Swift (creating pieces for celebrity clients has been part of their marketing strategy from the get-go), these Floridian sisters—now both living in New York—have invested precious time and creative energy into their charitable endeavors as well.

Some of their pieces come in the form of their involvement with Indego Africa, an initiative that focuses on “empowering and uplifting artisan women” in Ghana and Rwanda. By supporting local artisans and businesswomen with monetary grants, training courses on entrepreneurship and other vital business skills, then providing a viable market for these women to sell their handcrafted goods, Indego Africa is assisting industrious women as they work to lift their families out of poverty. After completing the program, the beneficiaries develop the knowledge and skills they need to grow their own enterprises, become confident entrepreneurs and leaders, and create brighter futures for themselves and their communities. 

Related Articles:

Olivela: Fashion meets Philanthropy

Tommy Hilfiger: Fight Against Autism

Dannijo: A Jewelry Brand With a Philanthropic Mission

© | 2019