Fashion itself is a universal constant; it ties the world together, broadens on all geographical scales, and impacts everyone’s life. As one of the most volatile, yet undying forms of three-dimensional art, apparel has transformed into a rapidly-growing means of creative global outreach. Many CEOs of major clothing companies today center their missions on philanthropic practices.
For instance, Donna Karan, with her classic, yet edgy style, stands as one of America’s most highly revered designers. What intrigues me about Donna Karan is the fact that she juxtaposes the ideals of simplicity with edgy, modern glamour. Her collections have extremely different themes, such as “Resort 2013” and “The Haitian Collection (Spring 2012).” Nevertheless, every outfit she creates seems to reflect Karan’s overall style as a whole; she strikes just the right balance of boldness and classiness in her pieces.
However, Donna Karan’s fame does not merely expand to the apparel world. She established Urban Zen, a nonprofit organization that strives to improve the economies and infrastructures of developing countries. Urban Zen incorporates sustainable materials and exotic inspiration in its goods. Karan is active in the improvement of Haiti. All of the profits earned from Urban Zen’s Haitian products are used for her “Hope Help and Rebuild Haiti” campaign. (urbanzen.org).
Ever since the devastating 2010 earthquake, Donna Karan has conducted monthly visits to Haiti. During her trips, she assists and collaborates with local artists for marketing promotions, entrepreneurial development, and design projects. As stated in Donna’s Journal:
“Haiti is where all the initiatives I care so passionately about come together; preserving culture, securing the helath and well-being for people and the education of children who represent their tomorrow…the vision for Haiti is simple: help Haiti help itself by utilizing and organizing its artisans, natural resources, and production potential to create business models that can be properly marketed and distributed throughout the US and Europe.” (Donnakaran.com)
Founded in France in 2004 by Patrick and Fabrice Tardieu, Bogosse has impacted luxury menswear in US, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. The Tardieu brothers tie classic professionalism and modern artistic inspiration together in their clean-cut business attire. Bogosse apparel is exclusive to Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and Bogosse.com.
Outside of the fashion industry, the Tardieu brothers partake in several international charities, such as Charitable Organizations Project Medishare, B-Peace, Ovarian Cancer Research Funds, Rush Philanthropic Foundation, Galapagos Conservancy Foundation, Innocence en danger, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Sunflower. They also attended Haiti’s Fashion Week in November, where they promoted outreach for their home country.
Ever since TOMS Shoes’ onset in 2006, Blake Mycoskie has revolutionized the footwear industry with his signature slip-on flats. His shoes were inspired from the traditional Argentinean alpargata, a slipper-like espadrille comprised of lightweight, yet durable textiles. TOMS Shoes has recently launched a “vegan TOMS” collection, which features shoes comprised of organic cotton shells and ecologically friendly fabric dyes.
However, Mycoskie’s true fame arose from the TOMS Shoes one-for-one program. For every pair of shoes sold, TOMS donates another to a child in a developing country. Mycoskie has hosted footwear distributions in Haiti ever since the 2010 Earthquake. The TOMS Shoes mission statement has become so widely recognized that other companies, such as Sketchers’ BOBS, have undertaken the exact same cause.
Fabric is the medium, charity is the mission, and design is the talent. All of these designers share these ideals; they express these three valuess throughout their highly successful pieces. Three simple, yet sound themes, tie the worlds of fashion and philanthropy together.