Saturday, November 17, 2007

shopping is politics

So Sorry for not updating, keeps me incredibly busy (and stressed)! No point in blubbering on though, so I'm going to cut to the chase--

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 " 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…

EDUN's main goal is to use trade to build 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:

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 (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.

From $28 shirts to $128 sweaters to $188 coats, they cover the whole spectrum from basics to on-trend items. No, they’re not all red and graphic tees. 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:

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

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.

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 (, org. $50), $98 Bronte Camisole Dress ( org. $195), $88 skinny jeans (, 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 Who doesn’t love a good deal?

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,, and

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 If you’d like to design a graphic tee, for your club or for yourself, edun LIVE has partnered with so it’s easy to DIY your own shirt online.

Believe it or not, shopping is politics. So next time you’re out and about, do it wisely. The world will thank you for it.

*EDUN is sold at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Fred Segal, Saks, Barneys, sometimes Anthropologie, and other specialty stores. Online retailers of EDUN are:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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:


Blogger discothequechic said...

wow, well done for writing such a worthy post!

It's very reassuring to know that fashion has become more ethically and eco-aware of late, but it still feels like a lot more needs to be done.

Can't believe Bono went to your college..

6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is heavy and a lot to digest, but a GREAT post. I will have to come back and comment more after I have had time to re-read and think.

7:56 AM  
Blogger WendyB said...

You know, Edun has struggled quite a bit financially. They're hoping to be in a turnaround phase now from what I recently read. But the best intentioned ideas don't always make for a sustainable business. I hope they pull through. I'm just saying this because people often get notice only the rock star and the high hopes of a project like this and not the day-to-day difficulties.

7:30 AM  
Blogger Carolina Lange said...

Great post! Very important topic!
I love Gap (PRODUCT)RED things, they are quite nice!

8:56 AM  
Blogger coco said...

I really liked the GAP tee's from this year, I really need to get one
I might put one on the christmas list....
This was such a great post!

11:20 AM  
Blogger sara said...

That was SUCH a good post, and I just signed the petition. I was informed and amazed.

x sara o

4:46 AM  
Blogger molly said...

wow this was a great post
i have one of the (RED) shirts and this post made me proud of ithaha

1:22 PM  
Blogger cotton candy said...

a lovely, deep and meaningful post! i've been volunteering to help save those less well off than us ever since high school and upto now. im so glad that you did a post on this. and it's great to see that designer items/labels are helping too.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Girl-Woman said...

You are an amazing young woman. The post was informative and touching. Your generation can make a difference...has to make a difference. I, too, will sign the petition. I will also pass this onto others.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Pretty In Black said...

I googled your AML and found your blog. I too am a fan of Michelle. I wasn't sure about her look at first but she's very interesting on film.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Cris Lazoru said...

Very good post! I quite liked it


7:00 PM  
Blogger penelope said...

you did such an awesome job! it's fab!! and the gap tee is so pretty!! and bono's such a great guy!! lucky you; get to meet him=p haha!

11:31 PM  
Blogger Style Bite said...

Such a well thought out post. Thanks.

2:37 PM  
Blogger Emma said...

my mum works at gap and i heart the product red stuff more people should do things to reach out

3:12 PM  
Blogger Diana @ So Fash'on said...

wow, congrats for the work on this post! and indeed, everybody should care a bit :)

12:25 AM  
Blogger Emma said...

What an excellent post.

6:47 AM  
Blogger Jen (MahaloFashion.Com) said...

it's sad the the problems in the world have gotten so out of control but it's good to see companies and celebrities and the rest of society trying to make it stop.

3:34 PM  
Blogger The Stiletto Effect said...

Hi :)
What a great post! I've enjoyed reading it very, very much!
I've also been away from posting since a while ago, but now I'm back.
In January I'll be posting new stuff and your interview :)
Have a fabulous Christmas and a Happy New Year :)

3:07 AM  
Blogger Francisca said...

We can make a difference. Great post.
I add you to my links.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous isleyn said...

gap ftw!
my friends and i bought our history teacher's newborn baby clothes from the gap [red] line thingie. haha. we wanted the kid to be aware of what's going on around him ;P

oh and btw..

8:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

fashion is great. Nice post. Job well done. GTG

7:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


11:49 PM  

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