Charity - a hot topic this week following David Beckham's donation of his £ 3 million pay check from Paris St-Germain to a children's charity. Fashion and charity have long been good friends, racking up play dates at charitable fashion shows, dressing the stylish attendees of fundraising functions or collaborating on product lines to generate profits. Maybe it's the consumer mindset involved in fashion which so perfectly pairs the act of purchase with the act of giving; fashion is indulgent and apart from the essentials, doesn't fall into the remit of critical-spend. Those who've never felt guilt pangs after a trend spend are few and far between, and it's possibly this guilty conscience which entices generosity. But the industry, too, is positioned to feel a little guilt, given its waste and pollution. And fashion's consumers are a great bunch for charities to target - their various demography is definable and they display signs of disposable income.
So, what ways are charitable organisations and fashion brands/retailers collaborating? And more to the point, what's really working?
Let's start with the t-shirt: the most visible form of philanthropic fashion. Charities latched onto the idea in the 80s, following the format being adopted by political sloganeering in the late 70s. Breast Cancer Awareness, Sports Relief, Jeans for Genes, Children in Need: many charities do a yearly update, with the most recent launch being Red Nose Days 2013 range. Theirs maxes out on fashion-credentials, having being designed by Stella McCartney, photographed by Helena Christensen and Mary McCartney and featuring imagery of Kate Moss shot by Corrine Day. If thats not enough, factor in that the range is modelled by Alexa Chung, David Gandy and Moss.
Other fashionable tees in the last 12 months have been delivered by Chlo for Harper's Bazaar by Browns for the Women for Women charity. Arriving in Browns at the start of March 2012, the first batch sold out at full price, £ 40, in early July. A September restock has been reduced to £ 30 and is still available. Maison Martin Margiela's £ 50 AIDS t-shirt for Selfridges arrived in store on the 25th January, bearing the slogan "There is more action to be done to fight AIDS than to wear this t-shirt but it's a good start". That sentiment is appealing to consumers, with one of the three sizes already out of stock.
With a seemingly endless supply of charity tees on the market, it can take a little more magic to create something worthy of attention. But attention doesn't necessarily translate into sales. Matches collaborated on a charity t-shirt range for homelessness charity, The Dispossessed Fund. Featuring 11 different designs across men's and women's tees, the t-shirts, all very different, were designed by Holly Fulton, Mary Katrantzou, Jonathan Saunders, Herself magazine, Roksanda Ilincic and J.W. Anderson and arrived in store on the 20th July 2012. The men's tee from Mary Katrantzou (who has considerable online consumer interest) was the only one to sell through any sizes at full price. Many saw discounting of 75%.