Fashion and philanthropy. At first, the two seem worlds apart.
While charity might be selfless, fashion appears so self-centred. We are often led to believe that fashion is frivolous; a business devoid of any values, except for what’s listed on the price tag.
But that’s far from the truth.
Fashion is a $3 trillion global industry, employing more than 60 million people. It is a powerful, global force. Fashion has an influence that can change society in so many ways. In hand with charity, it can make an enormous and positive impact around the world.
So how does the fashion world make an impact in the real one? Let’s explore where fashion meets charity.
C A I S A F A S H I O N S H O W
CFS is a student-run charity fashion show. In fact, it’s Canada’s largest.
To date, CAISA Fashion Show has raised more than $230,000 for Children’s Health Foundation; a nonprofit based in London, Ontario that is supporting healthcare, research, and rehabilitation programs to deliver care and support for children and their families.
In 2017, CFS will be presenting a brand new show in support of Children’s Health Foundation. Previous shows have raised funds for programs such as brain trauma research, and neonatal intensive care. The most recent production, Paragon, pulled in $30,000 for personalized medicine research.
The show has become one of London’s most anticipated events. Each year, CFS puts on a fashion show which gives back to its community, proving fashion and philanthropy go hand-in-hand.
B R A N D S T H A T G I V E B A C K
The link between charity and fashion is not always clear. Companies have recently started to fashion clothing for a cause, making a tremendous global impact. Consider TOMS, a company helping people in need with every product purchased. TOMS follows a one-for-one policy, donating a good or service for each product sold. With its charitable business model, the company translates consumer purchases into shoes, safe birth programs, eye care, and bullying prevention programs to the underserved in over 70 countries. By turning karma into capital, the company has been incredibly successful at merging the business of fashion with social responsibility.
Still, some find it difficult to imagine the gift of giving ever being en vogue. Many critique the fashion world as covetous and cruel, superficial and self-obsessed. But while some only see a starving-model industry, top models are feeding the hungry. And while raising the bar at New York Fashion Week, designers raise millions for the fight against cancer.
Take, for example, Ralph Lauren and the Pink Pony Campaign, which supports cancer treatment and prevention. Then there’s Michael Kors. Since 2013, the label has helped deliver 10 million meals to children with its #WatchHungerStop campaign. And how could we forget about Stella McCartney? The brand has been a proud supporter of over 25 charities.
Designers and brands are building businesses that give back and bring charity into the world of fashion.
R E D U C E , R E U S E , R E T A I L
Apart from driving social change, it is climate change that has become a hot topic for many brands. After all, the sheer size and consumerism of the fashion industry pose serious threats to the environment.
Every year, North Americans send more than 10 million tons of clothing to the landfill. That’s why an increasing number of brands are doing their part to reduce that impact, and make a more positive one. H&M, for example, encourages consumers to recycle their clothing. Regardless of brand or condition, the franchise accepts your unwanted apparel to repurpose it. Wearable goods are sold second-hand, while the worse-for-wear are converted into other materials, or energy.
There are many ways to recycle your wardrobe. As the weather grows colder, consider what articles of clothing you can donate to those in need. You can also help by sharing trends between friends, and accepting those hand-me-downs from your older siblings. Vintage never goes out of style, and charity—we’ve found out—is always fashionable.