Luxury brands and philanthropy


A new year commences, but some things never get old. CSR is an important part of any industry and has been since a long time, but luxury brands today are getting more acquainted to the idea of giving with open arms and making efforts - however large - to give back to the society

By: Karishma Parkash

Posted on: January 10, 2011


Jaeger-LeCoultre Geophysic watchAn old Indian saying teaches mathematics in a distinctive way. Give a man in need a rupee and the lord will give you ten. Following this recipe with a spoon full of style and a sprinkle of pride, luxury brands are today giving back with both hands.

Whether it’s the feeling of gratitude that luxury brands today want to experience or it is just an attempt to be a wholesome brand, luxury brands today are doing the ‘right’ thing. They have started embracing their internal righteousness by investing time and money in philanthropic causes. All ten fingers of these top notch brands are now concentrating on giving back to the society in style.

Why a sudden warm side to these otherwise snob brands? One look at their conscientious consumers will give you the answer. Luxury shoppers today are no longer satisfied with just a beautiful and fashionable item adorning their body. They want to feel virtuous and look absolutely great as well! Heads up for this recent trend that has wider implications than just making people feel good about spending their money. It’s a move towards conscientious consumption with a smile – literally!

Stylish Planet, Better planet
Each individual recognizes the multiple threats that the environment is facing and is striving to make a change.

Gucci eco-friendly packaging“For us, CSR initiatives are a way of giving back to the society to support a cause. Our aim is to generate awareness. We measure the success of such initiatives through the changes these activities bring to the society,” says Tarun Sharma, Country Head, India, Jaeger-LeCoultre.

The iconic watch brand conducted its second online auction in March 2010 to benefit the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. They offered a unique timepiece: one of the two vintage 1958 Geophysic Chronometers Model E168 tested by professional climber Stephane Schaffter and his team during their recent Geophysic Expedition to the Himalayas. Proceeds from the auction were promised to India’s Sundarbans, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Another commendable, but not wildly spoken about initiative, is by Fondazione Zegna which celebrates its 10th year of establishment. The Fondazione Zegna was founded by the fourth generation of the Zegna family in 2000 to improve the quality of life of communities and individuals around the world. It has been supporting and funding sustainable projects in cooperation with non-profit organizations in various fields, in different parts of the world and locally – with the distinct aim of improving the quality of life for people. Fondazione Zegna is based in Trivero, where Casa Zegna, a historical archive and cultural center, and Oasi Zegna, an “open-air laboratory” covering over 100 km2 and focusing on relationships between people, mountain culture and nature, are also situated. In the New Year, Fondazione Zegna (and Zegna Group), have a lot of new projects lined up for the betterment of the society. Impressive and truly heart warming!

When it comes to giving back to the society in style, Gucci has always been at the forefront. Gucci recently announced the launch of a worldwide eco-friendly programme designed to reduce the company's impact on the environment. The centrepiece of this initiative is newly designed packaging to reduce use of materials, exclusively use FSC Certified paper and to be 100% recyclable. The new packaging concept by Gucci represents an important action towards environmental responsibility.

Art conservation by luxury brandsArtist’s muse
When style and the fine arts meet, a beauty is always born and nothing but praise is sung. Tod’s collaborated with one of the most famous venue of arts and the spiritual home of opera and ballet in Italy - Teatro alla Scala - to continue its patronage of the arts. Notably, this is the first time Teatro alla Scala has partnered with a luxury or fashion brand for a project of this kind.

To celebrate the new partnership and the importance of preserving the unique heritage of craftsmanship, Tod's created a conceptual video together with Teatro alla Scala. Directed by German director/artist Matthias Zentner, it starred ballet dancers from Teatro alla Scala who interpreted through dance the multiple steps that take place in the creation of a Tod’s shoe. Absolutely innovative and admirable, this video was presented during Milan Fashion Week in September 2010. Through the partnership, Tod’s aimed to help Teatro alla Scala to cover the costs of their productions for an artistic season (one year).

Human wonder
More important than preserving the environment or the fine arts, some brands are making an effort to bring a smile to their fellow human’s faces.

To mark Chopard’s 10 years of support to the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Caroline Gruosi-Scheufele designed a new watch collection in collaboration with Sir Elton John himself. The collection reflects the artist’s extravagant personality as well as his tremendous generosity. The Elton John Watch Collection models boast a myriad of the precious gems of which Sir John himself is so famously fond. Generously enough, a percentage of the profits from the sale of Elton John watches will be donated to the fight against AIDS.

Chopard luxury watchesGucci also launched its first children’s collection and simultaneously extended its longstanding relationship with UNICEF through a USD 1 million pledge to UNICEF's 'Schools for Africa' program. The children's collection marks six years of Gucci’s corporate partnership with UNICEF that has raised more than USD 8 million to date. The ‘Schools for Africa’ program aims to increase access to quality basic education for all children, with a special emphasis on helping the most disadvantaged. Since the Gucci/UNICEF partnership began in 2005, Gucci has committed itself to support education, healthcare, protection and clean water programs for orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, where over 11 million children have lost one or both parents to the disease.

During the festive time last year, Burberry had designed an interactive card featuring a Burberry Acoustic performance of "Can't complain about Christmas" by Johnny Borrell from Razorlight! The brand made a donation to the Burberry Foundation, its registered charity set up in 2008 by Christopher Bailey and Angela Ahrendts, which is dedicated to helping young people realize their dreams and potential through the power of their creativity. Borrell waived all fees in lieu of a generous donation to the Burberry Foundation and other charities.

To commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, The Estée Lauder Companies’ Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign illuminated 38 global historic landmarks in pink lights over a 24-hour period of time. This event achieved a new Guinness World Record entitled “Most Landmarks Illuminated for a Cause in 24 Hours.” Guinness World Records made this official announcement as Evelyn H Lauder, Senior Corporate VP of The Estée Lauder Companies, and Elizabeth Hurley, Spokesmodel for Estée Lauder and The Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign, illuminated the Empire State Building in pink lights.

Burberry campaignThe global record began in Australia on September 30, 2010, spreading through iconic structures such as Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in India, Burj Al Arab Hotel and Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai, Tokyo Tower in Japan, Las Condes' City Hall in Chile and the Hotel Majestic in France, then culminating with the Empire State Building. These monuments have become international symbols of hope, with the goal that when a woman sees a pink landmark, she will be inspired to get a mammogram or seek information about breast health.

Luxury brands today are focusing on not only making you look good, but also feel good. So if you are thinking twice about spending those big bucks on that gorgeous bag - Don’t!

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