Clothes are one of the easiest ways to spread a message amongst people as they prove to be far less expensive than the billboards and other advertisement mediums that have a short life span and get more noticed than any other form of promotional methods. The added advantage of a social message spread through clothes is that it adds an element of fun and freshness to the message and can be used to raise awareness for any number of social causes. With no specific place to be worn, the messages on these clothes prove to be more persuasive.

Exclusive lines…

World AIDS Day, a day for people worldwide to unite and fight HIV, was a day when fashion retailers got involved by releasing special clothing items to support the cause. Armani Exchange partnered with ‘dance4life’, a non-profit organization and model Doutzen Kroes to release an exclusive T-shirt, featuring a photo of Doutzen with the words “Dance-Dance-Dance” across the front. All profits from the shirt were used to support ‘dance4life’ education initiatives and related programs. Designer Isabel Marant teamed up with Gap Red, which is Gap clothing’s partnership with Global Fund to raise money to eliminate AIDS in Africa, to develop a printed T-shirt for Gap. Nike came out with a Nike (RED) x World AIDS Day collection that included special-edition Cheyenne backpacks, pea coat-style destroyer jackets and a Nike (RED) Zoom Meriwether shoe. Fidelity Denim also designed a special edition of its signature Ace Skinny jean in bright red. This can be viewed as a very big initiative towards the society on the part of these big retailers.

On October 4th 2011, the brand Old Navy and Susan G. Komen announced a partnership for an exclusive collection specially designed to honour breast cancer awareness month. The iPromise™ collection featured tees and hoodies in a variety of colours from pink and white to black and charcoal grey at a price range of $ 19.94 for adult and $ 14.94 for kids and babies. The line was made available in stores and online for the month of October and 5 per cent of the total retail sales benefited Komen, an international non-profit whose promise is to save lives and end breast cancer.

The trend for supporting a cause is not new for the fashion brands, in September 2007; PUMA announced a long-term partnership with the British non-profit organization Peace One Day. PUMA’s commitment was based on the organization’s shared values such as inclusiveness, leadership, passion and willingness to push boundaries. To help raise visibility and awareness of Peace Day, PUMA launched a PUMA Peace One Day Football Collection which was seen on some of Africa’s leading players throughout the tournament, a portion of the profits generated by the collection was donated to Peace One Day. As a direct result of the campaign, 1.4 million children in Afghanistan were vaccinated against polio. In the past two years, 100 million people in over 200 countries were engaged in Peace Day activities and in 14 countries, efforts were targeted towards providing life-saving activities and medical services on the Day.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Disney Stores introduced a new line of “green” products on April 12, 2010. The product range of the line included tote bags and a line of T-shirts made from 100% organic cotton with the messages “Love” and “Save Planet Earth”.

[bleft] For long CSR was termed as the window dressing for powerful organizations, but fashion and brands today have shown the true meaning of responsibility towards both social accountability as well as social awareness by not only demanding for an ethical supply chain, but also creating collections with messages to spread social awareness… [/bleft]

Socially conscious brands…

While some brands are creating exclusive lines for the cause, some brands are dedicated to the cause. Moral Fervor, a young brand, develops T-shirts from hand-drawn designs. Each of their collections is made to raise awareness to environmental and social issues facing our world today. All the materials used for the brand are on the cutting edge of sustainability. Ingeo, a fabric made from corn, was first introduced to the market and Moral Fervor was among the first fashion companies to embrace it.

Lonesome George & Co a social enterprise organization combines branded apparel and experiential education to ignite a mind shift of global interdependence making it more than just a clothing line. The brand with clothes for men, women and kids carry inspirational and educational messages in their shirts and hoodies, mostly made of organic cotton.

Spreading a social message through the medium of fashion can be a profitable arrangement for all as well – the cause, the message and the retailers – because selling these products today when the consumer awareness is high and they are ready to pay a little extra, and that too all for a cause, the social act by the retailers can bring potential business benefits…

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