shopping is politics
Bono (you know, of U2 fame) came to our college a couple weeks ago to talk about Product Red, current situation in Africa, the politics of it, The Global Fund, etc. He was a great speaker IMO, communicated his points pretty well, wore his platform/high-top boots as always, and his trademark rose-tinted sunglasses too.
We also had Anderson Cooper a couple days ago...surprisingly, not as good a speaker, but "mad mad cute"...for an older guy, that is-- all the girls were constantly taking photos of him! There was a part when he said the last time he asked his mother for advice, Gloria Vanderbilt (the famous Vanderbilt baby-- look it up on wiki-- and designer...Vanderbilt Jeans), he was going to his first real interview and she told him something to the effect of, "Wear v e r t i c a l stripes, it's more flattering on the figure." or maybe it was "...it draws the eye downward." Cute, right?
Back to Bono though. He told us of his first-hand experience in Africa annd that the current situation is just...horrible. Children are dying because of things like diaharrea, unclean water, and really stupid reasons because they can't get simple medical assistance. People afflicted with AIDS are dying because they don't have enough money for the 2 pills a day they need to survive. Countries and politicans aren't coming through on their signed promises to Africa. As Bono stated, "This is not a cause. This is an emergency." There is a common thread called humanity that runs through all of us. We can't be unaffected.
So I wrote an article for the school paper which I spent about forever on so I thought I'd put it up here. The first part is more informative, while the second talks about Bono's line EDUN and (RED) items...where to buy, etc. It's a lot more objective and not as...well, heated or passioned as I typically get sometimes here. ; ) I also tweaked it a little bit to suit you guys better. Enjoy!
Armani and AIDS? The initial idea of linking fashion to aid can be hard to grasp. Even harder to grasp is the thought that materialism can be used as a mechanism to help change the world. But branded products and material sales are just what husband and wife duo, Bono and Ali Hewson, believe can initiate and produce much-needed change in and aid to Africa. But how exactly? Why the fashion industry? And is it really an effective means?
(RED) and EDUN are the names of the games. The first, founded by Bono and Bobby Shriver, DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) Chairman, serves to collaborate with different well-known brands to produce and sell (PRODUCT)RED branded items. The second, created by Bono, Ali Hewson, and Rogan Gregory, NY clothing designer, is an ethical, organic, and socially conscious fashion line (a bit on the pricey side too).
(RED) was created for the purpose of raising awareness and money for The Global Fund to fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, as well as against malaria and tuberculosis. Via The Global Fund Website: Malaria kills more than 1 million people a year, with 90% of these deaths occurring in Africa, mostly in children under 5 years of age. This money provides medical services, education, and nutrition, but most importantly, it covers the two 40-cent pills a day HIV-infected persons need to stay alive. Without it, they die, and more than 5,800 people are dying per day…
sustainable communities and long-term employment in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as India and Peru, by setting their business and production process there. They help those in developing countries to become their own manufacturers.
For (RED), the appeals of fashion and product placement lie in not only the purchasing attraction of America's strong, ready-to-shop consumer, but in its effectiveness in creating awareness. Partnering up with big brands allows for awareness to be spread via those companies' pockets, instead of (RED)'s, for marketing campaigns. This way, the relatively untouched private sector is incorporated and corporate money is set into The Global Fund.
As for EDUN, which is financed by the Hewsons, fashion— besides for the purpose of making beautiful, high-quality clothing— ends up serving as an effective way to make way for economic growth in Africa. This is because one of Africa's most valuable resources is their cotton, which they often end up selling to outside countries, instead of utilizing it themselves. Utilizing and attempting to strengthen all aspects of their apparel supply chain is key in laying a foundation for a future long-term apparel industry. Currently, in Lesotho, the apparel industry accounts for about 40% of the jobs. Designer Rogan also goes to each factory to meet the workers of local and ethically managed labour forces.
Neither (RED) nor EDUN are charities and their productivity and efficacy can be attributed to both their business-minded attitudes. (PRODUCT)RED makes their partners money, and so they stay partners, and as long as they stay partners, aid gets sent. And of course, EDUN, as a for-profit business, focuses on developing a strong economic business model in Africa. Over $45.5 million has been raised via (RED), and more than $30.8 million have been given to grant recipients in Rwanda, Swaziland, and Ghana.
To be a socially conscious consumer, it's all about choices! If you need a new phone and you happen to have a choice (let’s say you dropped it into the elevator shaft), see if you can purchase the RED MOTORAZR or RED MOTOSLVR. They come in black too— not every product is red. Giving your dad a Bluetooth headset? Then make it RED and an automatic $2.50 will be directly sent to The Global Fund. It might not seem like a lot, but according to their online Impact Calculator, that amount would be able to “ provide 21 single-dose (nevirapine) treatments for mother and baby, to prevent the transmission of HIV from mother to child. ” Of course, if you would want to just directly donate more to The Global Fund which would be even better: http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/donate.
But as is with Apple (PRODUCT)RED, one doesn’t purchase big tech items for the sake of donating— it would just happen that you would also be contributing money if you pick a raspberry-red-colored shuffle or nano ($10) instead. And speaking of Apple, if you’re looking for a gift for someone, or from, a RED iTunes card could be a thoughtful option. Need a card for a special occasion? Purchase a Hallmark (PRODUCT) RED card; 8% of the net sales are contributed.
Recently been looking into purchasing a pair of Converse? Customize your own in a variety of styles at www.makeminered.com (also at select GAP stores); 5-15% net sales contributed. And IMO, everyone needs at least one pair.
Now onto the fashion! So where to go? Drop into Gap next time you’re in the mall! Gap’s (PRODUCT)RED campaign donates half the profits to The Global Fund and has an college-friendly affordability for both guys and girls.
Two of my favorites for girls are the cinnabar military sweater and the navy long military coat, both standout pieces in a wardrobe. The wellies are cute and I’m partial to the striped hoodie for guys. Not to mention, the kid’s clothes are adorable if you’re the type to buy clothes for your small siblings or relative’s children. In fact, the Gap (PRODUCT)RED is great for feel-good gifting. Worried that the prices still aren’t in your price range? Well, thankfully for us, Gap does sales all the time. For example, on their website; for women, their pointelle henley is slashed to $9.99 from $45.00 and the empire cami has dropped from $28.00 to $4.99. For men a plaid shirt is currently $24.99 when it was $68.00. Not bad.
Purchasing this limited edition tee will give 2 weeks of medicine to help people living with HIV in Africa.
(RED) managed also to snag Giorgio Armani, one of the most revered and iconic high fashion designers in the business, to launch an Emporio Armani (PRODUCT)RED line. He collaborated with Owusu-Ankomah, whose art lies on the collection’s clothing, accessories, and packing. He has designed (RED) jewelry, sunglasses, and watches, and (PRODUCT)RED WHITE men’s and woman’s fragrances, donating 40% of the gross profit margin from sales. The line does cost a pretty penny; from $75 graphic tanks to $295 motorcycle jackets, but that is just reflection of the craftsmanship you can expect from Armani. If you have an unhealthy, occasional habit to splurge or need to get your parents or significant other a gift for some occasion (or would like for them to give you one), why not channel your money in a good way? Emporio Armani PRODUCT(RED) items can be found at any of the Emporio Armani stores and online: http://www.emporioarmani.com/.
Putting all goodness aside here, the fashion line EDUN, is a treasure on its own. Their clothing sells itself. For all you girls, and maybe guys, who are guilty of spending (having your mom spend) loads on your Sevens and Citizens: EDUN’s denim fits like heaven. Their comfy, organic, and environmentally-friendly clothes are also so well designed by Rogan Gregory and company; they take a self-proclaimed edgy, modern approach to classic silhouettes. Their current fall collection is based around the mystique of the essence of nature at night. Naturally, the men’s collection provides pieces with a rock ‘n roll feel as the women’s collection blends merino wool and cashmere into lightweight knits and elegantly edgy dresses topped with velvet and lace. The jeans also have a special little treat; the poem, “The Eight Elegy” imprinted on the inside pockets.
Edun's aesthetic (via edunonline.com):
The line ranges from $25 to $400 (online storefront). If it’s within your affordability range, EDUN is a line worth checking out next time you’re in the department store.* Do not despair if it’s not— sales are abound. For the Girls: $35 tee (blaec.com, org. $50), $98 Bronte Camisole Dress (activeendeavours.com org. $195), $88 skinny jeans (activeendeavours.com, org. $175). As for the Guys— they’re quite lucky: a variety of $20 (org. $55) tees, a $55 Mock Neck Sweater (was $155), and $44 Wembley Shorts (org. $125) at tobi.com. Who doesn’t love a good deal?
EDUN is both beauty and brains. Part rock & roll, part punk rock, EDUN
pulls intellectual inspiration from the 1920's Berlin Weimar culture combined
with the artistic romance stirred by the art nouveau movement in Paris of the
late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Art nouveau - known for the blending between disciplines as artists, poets and musicians came together in reaction to the coldness posed by the Industrial Revolution - produced remarkable art and literature. Beauty in craftsmanship and everyday objects was revered, such as the work of writer/poet Rilke and the art of Klimt and Mucha.
During the Weimar period, known for its decadent cabaret culture, German artists made significant cultural contributions in the fields of literature, art, music, dance, drama, the new architectural style at the Bauhaus, and the new medium of the motion picture, such as Fritz Lang's 1927 film Metropolis.
EDUN has also teamed up with the ONE organization, the Make Poverty History movement, to sell the ONE tee ($40), showcasing a fingerprinted graphic of Africa, which celebrities from Liv Tyler to Josh Hartnett have donned in the recent campaigns. EDUN gives $10 from each shirt to the ALAFA fund, which provides medication to the Lesotho factory workers and their family members with AIDS. The shirts are primarily being sold at Nordstrom, Nordstrom.com, and edunonline.com.
EDUN also has a sub-brand, edun LIVE, whose mission is to make for a self-sufficient sub-Saharan Africa through sales of blank and organic t-shirts for approximately $7 a pop at http://www.edunonline.com/. If you’d like to design a graphic tee, for your club or for yourself, edun LIVE has partnered with Zazzle.com so it’s easy to DIY your own shirt online.
*EDUN is sold at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Fred Segal, Saks, Barneys, sometimes Anthropologie, and other specialty stores. Online retailers of EDUN are: edunonline.com, saks.com, revolveclothing.com, activeendeavors.com, shopdetour.com, mrcharlesshop.com, satinboutique.com, beklina.com, shopequita.com, thegreenloop.com, mahsaboutique.com, matchesfashion.com, nordstrom.com, tobi.com, blaec.com.
sites of interest:
Speaking of ONE, right now there is a petition, On the Record, which is asking for the 2008 presidential candidates to go on the record and say what exactly their stance on fighting extreme poverty and global disease is.
please take a moment & sign here: http://www.one.org/ontherecord/index.html