Taking Fashion for a Cause up a notch
Hear someone say “Fashion for a Cause” and you’ll immediately think of occasional high-profile events such as Fashion for Relief where couture pieces are auctioned. Or of special tee-shirt lines launched in support of survivors of some tragic natural disaster.
These are all fine because their bottomline is to help out our less fortunate brethren, but perhaps fashion companies can go much further than seasonal events, or waiting for catastrophe to strike before doing something, to truly weave the “Fashion for a Cause” ideology into their corporate DNA.
Take exotic leather goods maker Via La Moda for example. Based in Johannesburg, South Africa and operating across three continents, including Australia and North America, Via La Moda is not your typical “We use crocodile and ostrich leather in our accessories so it’s only appropriate that we ask for two of your arms and a good bit of your leg in return” luxury goods company. (Not that they do in the first place, their prices are not what Hermes fans would call exorbitant.) Sure, they’re essentially a company whose bottomline is to turn a profit, but the South African firm is much more than trading goods and ringing the cash register.
According to Loic Bellet of Via La Moda, in addition to crafting goods out of premium materials, the company is also on a longstanding mission “to provide previously disadvantaged persons with a sound leather craftsman’s education through our enterprise.” Apparently, there is no formal avenue in South Africa that would enable persons with the desire to learn about traditional exotic leather crafting to do so. We can imagine that, because when talking about go-to places for luxury goods, France and Italy are still the top two countries that come to mind. “As well, we facilitate the marketing and selling of the products made by those people who have successfully obtained the required know how,” Bellet continued.
“We’ve been working hard at our endeavours since 1989 and many of our staff are still with us today, while some were able to access good positions as craftsmen in other companies in South Africa. It is always heart warming to hear our master craftsman talk about watching his people grow over time,” he added.
This is what we want to see proliferate across the global fashion industry. While we applaud the contributions of existing fashion charity events, we think it would be such a wonderful vision to have major players in the fashion world look at community engagement and social responsibility as an everyday endeavour, not just another public relations exercise.