In addition to a strong commercial presence many big brands also organise and fund humanitarian and artistic projects around the world. Here are some of the interesting schemes currently supported by brands you may know and admire.
Designer Donna Karan has put a lot of time and resources into the creation of the Urban Zen Foundation. This New York City based operation covers a wide range of areas to help people suffering from cancer, as well as programs created to improving the health and well-being of children. The Urban Zen Foundation has worked closely with the Beth Israel Medical Centre, and has donated $850,000 dollars to their cancer wing. The foundation is designed to combine alternative therapies to work in conjunction with medical treatments, in the hope that this merging of philosophies can bring a more effective treatment. Karan launched the foundation following the death of her husband from lung cancer in 2001.
Few clothing or footwear brands have taken the ethical position of TOMS. Based on a simple principle of One for One, TOMS shoes have provided much needed help for children in impoverished nations. The idea behind TOMS is about tackling the condition of podoconiosis, which effects the foot. It’s caused by continual walking barefoot, and can even cause incapacitating disfigurement. It was while visiting Buenos Aires that Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS, was inspired to help the local children, who were unable to attend school without shoes. Because of this, Mycoskie decided that for each pair of TOMS shoes sold, another pair would go to children in need of footwear. More than 600,000 pairs of shoes have been given away.
The look and style of American Apparel is perhaps a little misleading when it comes to the amount of work the brand does for human rights causes. Underneath the glossy images of perfect men and women, the brand has become known for its work in furthering the causes of minority groups, particularly in the field of gay rights and immigration reform. In response to Proposition, or Prop 8, a ballot in the state of California essentially outlawing same-sex marriage rights, American Apparel set up ‘Legalize Gay’. Legalize Gay was a form of protestation to support the brand’s LGBT workers, giving away t-shirts to show support for gay rights. Since 2003, American Apparel has been very vocal about the plight of working immigrant workers in the US, especially in Californiw. Legalize LA emphasises the importance of immigrant workers, promoting the need for fair pay and conditions.
It’s not just about Hugo Boss watches, clothing and fragrances as the brand is also known for one of the most prestigious art awards in the world. The Hugo Boss Prize was launched in 1996, and is awarded every alternate year. The cash reward is a rather impressive $100,000, which brings with it a much lauded trophy. But this isn’t the only connection that the Hugo Boss brand has with the arts. While the brand offers a financial prize with its award, it also offers art sponsorship and support in conjunction with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. This has helped many budding artists in creative fields to develop their talents, helping to improve the profile of artists and designers.
- License: Creative Commons image source
Peter Shorney is a keen writer with an interest in humanitarian issues around the world.