Fashion with a conscience: A R109 million bag, Pandora charms and R18 000 sneakers all for charity

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Image supplied by the Boarini Milanesi press office.
Image supplied by the Boarini Milanesi press office.
  • Over the past few months, various major fashion and beauty brands have been rallying for good causes - from Covid-19 relief measures to addressing matters of representation and diversity in these industries.
  • To mark World AIDS Day this year, Louis Vuitton announced its collaboration with (RED) - an organisation created to fight HIV/AIDS, while in November - in support of UNICEF for World Children’s Day - Pandora launched a new addition to Charms for Change.
  • We take a look at the labels who've been rallying for good causes, including Covid relief, saving PPE-polluted oceans, and diversity amid the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement.

Since March this year, European luxury labels have been donating millions towards PPE and hospital donations amid the coronavirus crisis.

So as mega brands continue to flex their muscles of goodwill during times of health and social justice crises, we're welcoming the responsible - albeit long overdue - strides towards change. 

I guess when we finally get to 'eat the rich', we'll pick from a buffet of the altruistic kind who buy Louis Vuitton kicks to fight HIV/AIDS, Italian handbags worth R109 million to save the oceans, and high-end jewellery or skincare brands that contribute towards child nutrition

Louis Vuitton for (RED)

To mark World AIDS Day this year, Louis Vuitton announced its continued collaboration with (RED), the organisation founded by Bono and Bobby Shriverin 2006 to fight AIDS. To show their support, this luxury label has created the Louis Vuitton I (RED) Trainer and for each LV Trainer sold, $200 (approximately R3 000) will be donated to the Global Fund to fight AIDS in support of (RED). 

The LV kicks cost R18 000 in South Africa and are available exclusively from the Louis Vuitton V&A Waterfront store, Cape Town. Shoes start from size 5 - suitable for all genders (limited stock).

First presented during Men’s Artistic Director Virgil Abloh’s debut Spring/Summer 2019 show for Louis Vuitton, the LV Trainer has become a staple menswear sneaker. Flirting with nostalgia and borrowing its lines from basketball shoes, the Louis Vuitton I (RED) Trainer features embossed Monogram on white leather with bright red piping and details. Monogram flowers are embedded across the sole of the low-top sneaker. 

fashion for good

Made in Italy, the LV Trainer is innovative and entirely embellished with Louis Vuitton House codes while nodding to (RED)’s signatures and powerful messaging.  

fashion rallies for good
Images supplied on behalf of Louis Vuitton 

What is (RED)?

(RED) got its name because it is the colour of emergency. In 2006, (RED) was founded to engage businesses and people in one of the greatest health emergencies, the AIDS pandemic.

Today, as Covid-19 threatens to undo progress of the AIDS fight, (RED) is supporting the fight against two deadly pandemics - AIDS and Covid-19 - by partnering with the world's most iconic brands to generate money for the Global Fund through (RED)-branded goods and experiences. (RED) Partners include fellow coveted "upper echelon" brands such as Apple, Balmain, Beats by Dr. Dre, Louis Vuitton, and Montblanc.

To date, (RED) has generated $650 million for the Global Fund to support HIV/AIDS grants primarily in eSwatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. 100 percent of that money goes to work on the ground – no overhead is taken. 

Global Fund grants that (RED) supports have impacted 180 million people with prevention, treatment, counselling, HIV testing and care services. Today, (RED) money continues to support these programs as well as efforts to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on critical health services for the world’s most vulnerable.   

Also dedicated to the fight against HIV/AIDS is cosmetics brand, M.A.C. with their Viva Glam range.

M.A.C Viva Glam fund

With distinct and striking packaging, the 26-year-old M.A.C VIVA GLAM lipstick range has a finish just as enduring as its commitment to philanthropy. 

The first VIVA GLAM face was the doyen of drag, RuPaul, who breathed life into the slogan, “I am the M·A·C Girl!" 

According to M.A.C, the "passionate red VIVA GLAM Lipstick raised money and awareness for HIV/AIDS at a time when the pandemic was dramatically affecting fashion communities in particular as well as the wider world," - 100% of VIVA GLAM product purchases go towards the M.A.C AIDS Fund.

Locally, the M.A.C VIVA GLAM Fund supports four local partners who are committed to serving vulnerable communities in Port Elizabeth, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Johannesburg. 

To do your part, you can shop your favourite shade (or all) from the VIVA GLAM range at the recommended retail of R260 at select M.A.C beauty counters or online.  

READ MORE: Rosalía is the latest M.A.Ctivist in support of HIV/AIDS, introducing a shade of red M.A.C lipstick

Pandora for UNICEF

Through a long-term global partnership that kicked off in 2019, Pandora is helping UNICEF reach more than 10 million children and young people with opportunities to learn, express themselves and find work in the future.

“Children and young people are the future. With Pandora’s support, we can equip them with the skills they need and harness their energy, enthusiasm, and ideas; so they become active citizens who claim their rights and contribute to their countries’ societies and economies”, said Karen Hækkerup, Executive Director of UNICEF Denmark.  

fashion rallies for good
fashion rallies for good

Images supplied on behalf of Pandora 

In support of UNICEF for World Children’s Day during the month of November, Pandora launched a new addition to Charms for Change – a limited edition globe-shaped charm that opens to reveal a heart, with €15 (about R270) from each sale donated to UNICEF. Charms for change gives Pandora fans a way to contribute to the cause and wear their support for the world’s most vulnerable children.

Through these and future initiatives, Pandora for UNICEF aims to give children the chance to pursue their passions and fulfil their potential, so they can become the next generation of leaders, change- makers and entrepreneurs – the minds that will shape our future. 

Another brand that rallied for child nutrition this year is professional skincare brand Environ.  

Environ for GROW Educare centres

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted food environments and systems; and the continuing economic fall-out is plummeting millions more people into food insecurity. Since hard lockdown in March this year, there has been a concerted mobilisation in South Africa to help improve access to sufficient food resources across the country.

However, many South Africans remain precariously on the brink of hunger, and many children are at risk of malnutrition. In response to this heart-breaking socioeconomic situation, South African-born skincare brand Environ has announced a six-month campaign to boost the daily nutrition of vulnerable pre-scholars.

Joining hands with stockists, beauty therapists and consumers, the #EnvironCares campaign pledged R500 000 to support a vital children’s nutrition programme in the GROW Educare Centres. The donation has been linked to the sales of the Environ Original range and the public can also donate to the programme online, on the GivenGain platform.   

environ pledges to grow educare centres
Image supplied by Environ 

The campaign will enable GROW Educare Centres situated in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban communities to provide a power porridge meal to 1 800 children, for five days a week over the six-month campaign period; resulting in a total of 238 000 meals.

If this initiative pulls at you heartstrings, you can make your donation here

A R109 million handbag for PPE-polluted oceans 

The Italian brand Boarini Milanesi is launching a 6-million-euro bag (approximately R109 million) - undoubtedly the most expensive ever in the world.

It has been created to raise awareness on the need to protect our seas, which are becoming even more threatened than usual by non-biodegradable plastics due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The brand has decided to create this bag for a very precise reason, linked to the personal story of one of the brand’s two founders and designers, Matteo Rodolfo Milanesi. Matteo Rodolfo, who lost his father when he was just a teenager, has lots of memories of him linked to the sea.

“We used to spend every summer at sea, between Greece and Turkey, and I was happiest when we would go on boat trips between the islands” says Matteo Rodolfo. “Even though mass tourism was still a long way off, we would often see plastic bags floating on the water or patches of tar leaked by oil tankers”.

“Recently, I have seen even more plastic in the sea than when I was a child, due to the pandemic and all the gloves and face masks that are being carelessly thrown away. This reminded me of my father, who used to dive into the water to collect the plastic bags and bottles floating in the sea and help me wipe the patches of tar that I found on the beach when I was building sand castles off my hands”. 

This is why, together with Carolina Boarini, co-founder and designer of the brand, he decided to do something to help raise people's awareness of the need to respect the environment, dedicating this particular bag to his father, who cared so much about the crystal clear waters of the seas and oceans. The project also includes a practical initiative for cleaning the seas - Boarini Milanesi undertakes to donate 800 thousand euros of the proceeds (approximately R14 million) to cleaning and operations in defence of the marine environment.

There are only three of these bags in the world. 

fashion rallies for good

Image supplied by Boarini Milanesi 

It is a Parva Mea model, made of semi-shiny alligator, adorned with a diamond pavé accessory and 10 white gold butterflies with sapphires, diamonds and Paraiba tourmalines, for a total of over 130 carats, and over 1000 hours of work. The choice of the stones is linked to seawater.  

fashion rallies for good
Image supplied by Boarini Milanesi 

Carolina Boarini tells us; “Blue sapphires represent the depths of the oceans, Paraiba tourmaline reminds us of the uncontaminated Caribbean seas and diamonds refer to the transparency of water when it falls in the form of rain”.

This 4-year-old luxury Italian handbag label was founded upon environmentally ethical principles from the start. The brand’s founders and designers, Carolina Boarini and Matteo Rodolfo Milanesi, strongly believe in the concept "less, but better": fewer products, but of higher quality, to reduce the environmental impact. 

Every Boarini Milanesi handbag is made to order, exclusively for the client, with their name embossed on the leather. The inner structure and packaging are made of vegetable tanned leather, wool and cashmere in place of commonly used synthetic materials.

During the crafting process, the client can meet the craftsman who is creating their bag, via live streaming.

Fashion for diversity

This July, youth culture brand Vans joined the #StopHateForProfit Facebook boycott, and not too long after, Tommy Hilfiger announced the launch of its People’s Place Program - a three-pillared platform to advance the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) within the fashion and creative industries. 

This was after Tommy had also donated 10 000 T-shirts to frontline healthcare workers.

Australian-born fashion and lifestyle brand - loved locally in SA - Country Road, then announced their contribution to the diversity conversation in August by partnering with the Aboriginal Art Fair. This was in line with Country Road’s mission to recognise and celebrate Indigenous fashion and creativity in Australia, as they served as the presenting partner for the Fashion Design Award Category at the inaugural National Indigenous Fashion Awards (NIFA). 

READ MORE: Local e-retailer founder on how to be faithful to nature amid global health, climate crises 

And during Women's Month, local online retailer Faithful to Nature partnered with Mosaic, a community-based organisation that combats domestic violence. For the month of August, a portion of the sales on all women’s products was donated to the organisation to help raise funds for the much-needed renovations of the survivor safe space in Wynberg, Cape Town.

Through this, Faithful to Nature managed to raise over R68 900. 

Additional information and images provided by Positive Dialogue Communications, Avenue Communications, Press Room, and Boarini Milanes

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