Fashion Labels That Give Back
Blue denim jeans, preppy polo shirts and black leather have nothing in common, but their founders do. Levi Strauss, the creator of blue jeans, Ralph Lauren, the creator of the polo shirts, and Versace, known for their iconic black leather and Medusa logo, are just some of the fashion labels that give back to combat current issues. They donate money, clothes and masks for issues such as poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who They Are

Ralph Lauren has dominated the fashion world with its vibrant colors and iconic polo player logo, which stems from the designer’s love of sports and is embroidered on the company’s polo shirts. People also know Ralph Lauren for blending the American style with European fashion. As for its founder, he built his company from the ground up without ever attending fashion school. As of November 2021, Forbes listed Ralph Lauren’s worth at $7.3 billion.

Gianni Versace worked alongside his mother in the fashion industry, before starting to freelance designs for Italian designers. He sprung his own collection in 1978. His fashion house, Versace, received credit in the 1990s for being the first to feature supermodels in its ad campaigns. Not only that, the Italian company pioneered displaying models with noticeable personalities. Black leather and gold jewels accompany its iconically sensual style to give more of an edgy punk look.

Levi Strauss wanted to strike gold during the California Gold Rush in 1853, but it was not gold that would make him rich. In 1872, tailor Jacob Davis wrote to Strauss, sharing his new way of making pants that made them last longer. In the letter, he asked Strauss to be a business partner. Strauss agreed, and thus blue jeans were born.

All three fashion designers started out small, which eventually led to their success. Despite that success, these fashion labels advocate for private organizations, implement poverty reduction efforts and sponsor those combating COVID-19 relief and support the arts and culture.

COVID-19 Hospital Relief: Versace

In 2020, COVID-19 took a negative toll on everyone and their health. Cases increased and hospitals ran out of rooms to place their patients in. Donatella Versace, the chief creative officer of Versace, decided to contribute to pandemic relief by donating to hospitals in her home country of Italy. At that time, Italy had the highest number of COVID-19 cases with a total of 17,660 as of March 14, 2020. Versace donated €200,000 ($222,890) to San Raffaele hospital’s ICU after it requested aid due to the increase of pandemic patients. She explained, “In times like this, it is important to be united and support however we can help all those who are in the front lines, fighting every day to save hundreds of lives.”

Millions Donated: Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren has created and funded nonprofit organizations that differ from Versace’s. However, these two fashion powerhouses share one goal: to help their community. The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation has donated a total of $10 million in donations and resources to its workers and communities worldwide. The Foundation recently donated a value of $1.5 million in clothing to frontline workers and families. These interventions build on the precedent that emerged decades ago when the Foundation started a cancer-combatting campaign in 2000 called the Pink Pony Campaign.

Ralph Lauren provided grants for any employee who needed accommodations during the pandemic, such as health or childcare needs. Additionally, it partnered with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund for COVID-19 relief and donated 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation gowns to health care workers. As Ralph Lauren said, “This includes helping to fund necessary hospital resources—ranging from personal protective equipment and patient navigation programs to meals and childcare support.”

Advocate for Poverty Reduction: Levi Strauss

As of 2018, 10% of San Francisco residents lived in poverty. To combat this, Levi Strauss Foundation donated a total of $100,000 to a local poverty-fighting NGO called The Tipping Point Community. This organization combats poverty in the area and raises funds for communities that the pandemic hit hardest.

The Tipping Point Community funds economic support for people dealing with or at risk of poverty. Its funding has paid for food, housing and hospital bills. It also aids in paying bills for workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The Tipping Point Community’s goal of $30 million is ambitious, but foundations like Levi Strauss agree that stabilizing the area’s ecosystem and improving the lives of individuals in need is well worth the investment. To date, the NGO has raised more than $18 million of that goal.

Fashion Labels That Give Back

Ralph Lauren loved sports so much that he created an empire. Versace wanted women to feel comfortable in their skin, so he designed clothes that accentuated their bodies. Levi Strauss made a partnership and, in the process, created blue jeans that better-accommodated workers. These three designers grew up differently and had different inspirations when it came to making clothes. However, these fashion labels share one thing: they give back. All three created and funded organizations that helped to fight issues such as poverty, providing funding during the pandemic and helping their workers receive financial aid.

– Maria Garcia
Photo: Flickr