Best Philanthropic Initiatives - Luxury's Super Heroes!


There is one good thing about buying that latest expensive passion - your favoured brand is now doing a little charity from your side for various causes. We recount some of the best initiative so far...

By: Salman Z. Bukhari

Posted on: June 10, 2011

Estee Lauder Breast Cancer AwarenessCorporate Social Responsibility is the new order in today’s world. Be it a mass consumer product giant or a boutique service agency, every business has understood the importance of societal contribution, not only as a favourable public relations exercise, but also as a commitment towards the world in which they thrive. Business is no longer a monologue, but a dialogue, a two way alley, where consumers accept the company’s offerings and the company contributes towards making a difference in the lives of those who support and sustain it.

This month we highlight Luxury with a Conscience and present to you some memorable and iconic CSR initiatives championed by luxury brands across the world.

Estée Lauder goes Pink!
In 1992, the Corporate Vice President of Estée Lauder, Ms Evelyn H Lauder, launched what would become one of the most definitive CSR activities undertaken by any brand and that too much before it became fashionable to attach oneself to a cause. More than 2,00,000 people signed a petition initiated by the company urging White House to allocate more funds towards Breast Cancer Research. Before we knew it, the Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) Campaign was born to raise awareness that early detection of breast cancer can save lives.

In 2010, the BCA reached more than 2 billion people in more than 70 countries by communicating to women and men around the world to conquer breast cancer once and for all. “Women around the world are realizing that knowledge is power and, therefore, the fear that once surrounded breast cancer is diminishing. Today we are making more progress than ever and reaching more people each year with the message that if a localized breast cancer is detected early, it’s 98 per cent curable,” says Ms Lauder on the movement she started two decades back.

Shiseido for Japan relief campsShiseido for Japan
The world’s oldest skin care company, Shiseido, is today a global giant, but has never forgotten its origins. It all began in Japan.

Japan experienced one of the worst natural disasters in modern times with multiple earthquakes, tsunami, subsequent flooding in 2011, causing immense loss of life and property. When the country thought it was over, a possible nuclear disaster hung above its future.

Shiseido was amongst the first companies in the world to stand up and take charge of the situation. Apart from making huge monetary contributions towards relief efforts, the company dispatched its Beauty Consultants to the relief camps, who provided massages to everyone affected, making life a bit better for those traumatized. Tonnes of cosmetic and personal care products were sent to victims with instructions on preventing and dealing with thrombosis that evacuees were at risk of suffering from. The company also initiated the Shiseido Social Contribution Club – Hanatsubaki Fund - which urges everyone to donate towards rehabilitation of the victims.

Diane von Furstenberg for women empowermentDiane von Fürstenberg, a crusader for everything good!
Ms Fürstenberg arrived in the fashion world in 1972 with her iconic wrap dress and the seed of what is today a full fashion house. By 1976, she had sold millions of her dresses, coming to symbolise female power and freedom to an entire generation. Today DVF is a fashion force to reckon with.

Elected as Council of Fashion Designers of America’s president in 2006, she understands the responsibility she has at the helm of a luxury business and the meaningful impact it can have on people’s lives.

A firm believer in the power of women, Diane sits on the board of Vital Voices, a women’s leadership organization that empowers emerging women leaders and social entrepreneurs around the world. She has pushed successfully for model age limits to be increased on the ramps and stressing on not using underweight girls at any showing by American designers. DVF has always been at the forefront when it comes to using multi-racial talents for its shows and publicity. Ms Fürstenberg remains committed to making the most of her title and famous fashion house for humanitarian causes.

Tiffany for coral conservationTiffany’s Oceanic Initiative
In 2009, the windows of Tiffany & Co.’s retail stores worldwide featured images of coral reefs, publicising Tiffany’s commitment since 2002 not to use coral in its designs. This ‘Under the Sea’ social campaign was designed to raise awareness about the damage coral harvesting inflicts on critically important marine ecosystems. Destructive fishing methods, climate change and their removal for use as decorative objects and jewellery caused the ‘Coral Crisis’ which urged the brand to discontinue selling coral jewellery in 2002.

In addition, Tiffany supports SeaWeb, a non-profit organization, and the ‘Too Precious to Wear’ campaign, designed to educate consumers and retailers about coral conservation. Tiffany also backs the reauthorization of a US Coral Reef Conservation Act and the addition of red coral to the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which lists species that could become threatened with extinction if trade is not carefully monitored. Tiffany is committed to what it calls ‘sustainable style’, enduring designs of beauty that pose no threat to natural resources.

Louis Vuitton Green House Gas conservationLouis Vuitton Goes Green!
LVMH’s champion luxury brand, Louis Vuitton, is at the forefront of the social responsibility campaign, and is undoubtedly one luxury brand which is going all out to cover as many causes as possible, with the planet Earth being the core cause. Since 1998, Vuitton awoke to its accountability towards the environment through the establishment of the Green House Gas Protocol. Since then, it has taken efforts to cut down on its carbon footprint by reducing employee travel, installing energy saving equipment and buildings, and making green-conscious stores.

A few years ago, the brand launched a ‘Core Values’ ad campaign, that has featured tennis player Andre Agassi, rocker Keith Richards and, most recently, astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The ads have emphasized the company’s support for the non-profit group Climate Project, and the celebrities appearing in them have donated at least part of their modelling to the organization which was founded by Al Gore. The brand also recently took a stake in Edun, an organic-clothing company, founded by the singer Bono and his wife, to emphasise the importance of recyclable and sustainable resources.

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