A Captive Audience

When Fashion Flirts With Charity: Bravo or BS?
December 26, 2010, 8:20 am
Filed under: Research | Tags: ,

By Alice Pfeiffer from Fashionista 24 December 2010

PARIS–Reporters sans Frontières, a French association defending the rights of international reporters, turned 25 last week. To mark the event, Azzaro launched a capsule collection of t-shirts and accessories, to be sold at a pop-up store in Paris; 50% of the profits will be given to the association.

This is nothing new for the fashion house: Every year, it choses a humanitarian cause to support. Past projects include work with Sidaction, Orphanaid, Unicef and more.

Any self-respecting fashionista knows this type of project is hardly original: Lady Gaga auctioning her costume for Haiti, H&M x Lanvin for Unicef, Angelina Jolie’s line for Asprey, and the list goes on. Luxury-meets-charity affairs are frequent and appealing–it gives the latter glitzy coverage and the former an image makeover.

But how genuine are those really? An opportunity to wash your sins away by loudly donating to the conflit du jour?

“No–in our case, it is part of the company mission to donate to a cause we believe in, on an annual basis. This year, freedom of press and war reporters felt important to us,” Azzaro CEO Nathalie Franson told Fashionista.

“In no way is this a cliché,” she added, “luxury brands possess a strong image, and it is important for them to use their power to benefit meaningful projects.”

Yet not all seem to agree: “Because of the high number of simultaneous conflicts worldwide, causes tend to come in and out of fashion,” said Carol Mann, founder of Femaid, an organization supporting women of Afghanistan, for which Stella McCartney designed a line of t-shirts (one of which Madonna owns).

“Causes deemed important one minute become passé the next,” she added.

What do you think of luxury schmoozing with charity?


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