Fashion For A Cause: How The Industry Gives Back

Charity fundraising events are an essential part of any not-for-profit organization. But how do they keep people interested in donating their hard-earned money when there are so many charities out there that need money? They throw an extravagant event! It might sound counter-productive, but sometimes you need to spend money to make money, and a fun event to show people how much their donations are appreciated is often a good way bring exposure to a cause.

One of the most successful types of fundraisers has always been the charity fashion show. High end fashion attracts people with money to spare, and what better way to spend it than on charities working for a great cause? The Most Wanted event benefiting the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto just completed its eighth consecutive charity fashion show on May 8th, 2014. To date, they have raised $400,000 towards gynecological cancer care, thanks in part to the entertainment provided by the runway show that attracts many generous donations. The fashion industry isn’t just about models wearing outrageously priced merchandise no one will ever own, walking down runways. Some of the biggest names in fashion are more than willing to lend their name to a cause, and the charity fashion show continues to be one of the most lucrative ways to raise money.

5 Most Wanted Event

Via: Runway show: Most Wanted event, May 8, 2014

Most Wanted was started in 2007 by cousins Jim De Gasperis and Marco Guglietti, in honour of Marco’s mother, Concetta Guglietti, who lost her battle against cervical cancer. 2014’s event on May 8th was their eighth year and they succeeded in meeting their goal of raising $100,000 for Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto. Every year the event is based around a luxurious colour theme that is applied to the decor, flowers, and even the food. In the past themes have been golden yellows, deep reds, and grey and purple. This year, the colour was Mediterranean azure blue.


Held at Eagles Nest Golf Club in Thornhill, the event is a glamorous evening of high end fashion, 5-star food, and luxury cars. Some of the designers that have been featured in the Most Wanted fashion show include Valentino, Armani, J. Mendel, Jason Wu, Lanvin, Nina Ricci, Moschino, Proenza Schouler and Canada’s own Evan Biddell.

The fashion show portion of the event sets a great example for charities that want to include high end fashion in their own fundraising efforts.

4 Fashion and Fundraising

Most Wanted is far from the only annual fashion show for charity. Fashion for Change is an event put on by University of Waterloo students and benefits the Free the Children Adopt a Village campaign. The money raised goes toward helping a village rebuild essential pillars of their community, such as health care, and an efficient and safe water system. The show incorporates choreographed dancing, and student-designed fashion and accessories. Some of the sponsors include American Apparel, Boathouse, and Jean Machine.

Another big annual fundraiser that has started incorporating fashion into their events in the last couple years is amfAR’s Cinema Against AIDS event. Held during the Cannes film festival in France, the black tie event is one of the most in demand events of the entire festival. The show is curated by ex-Vogue Paris editor-in-chief, Carine Roitfeld, and has included legendary couture fashion houses like Burberry, Chanel, Gucci, and Armani. Since 1993, the event has raised more than $100 million for AIDS research programs. Celebrity attendees in the past have included Sharon Stone, Jessica Chastain, and Nicole Kidman.

3 Merchandise for Charity

Another way fashion contributes to charity every day is through merchandise that is sold specifically to benefit a certain cause. For example, during October, for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is merchandise everywhere that features either the signature pink ribbon, or just the colour pink. You can buy socks, T-shirts, bracelets, key chains and hats. Choose Hope is a website that sells merchandise that brings awareness and supports research for various types of cancer. Fashion is a great way to bring awareness to a cause because people are able to wear their support, and spread the word while also donating money to the charities they want to help.

2 Designers Who Give Back

Michael Kors might be one of the most well known designers in the world, thanks to his stint as a judge on Project Runway. He has used his name to help children in need through his Watch Hunger Stop campaign. For every one of his limited edition watches sold, the United Nations Whole Food Programme delivers 100 meals to children in need.

Hong Kong retailer Lane Crawford has an ongoing line of T-shirts designed by a variety of big names, including Alexander Wang, Stella McCartney, and Givenchy. All the proceeds from sales go directly to Save the Children to support children’s education across China.

Kate Spade works with Women for Women International to help foster small craft businesses, such as embroidery, bead work, and knitting, for women in third world countries who might otherwise have no marketable skills. The Hand in Hand project exists in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Rwanda, and has recently expanded to Afghanistan. The collaboration creates jobs in impoverished countries, and gives women the opportunity to learn valuable skills. A percentage of the proceeds from the sales of the Hand in Hand products go back to Women for Women International.

Since 2005, Gucci has produced an annual capsule line of purses to support UNICEF. They set aside 25% of the proceeds from sales of the purses to donate to the children’s organization, which has allowed them to donate over $9 million to date. One year, Rihanna teamed up with Gucci to help promote their Tattoo Heart Collection to benefit UNICEF.

1 Why Fashion Works

Fashion is a huge status symbol, and people often use clothing and accessories to display their money or their knowledge of the industry. But even if you can’t afford couture style, many designers offer accessible lines that anyone can have. Merchandise is a great way to offer the public something they can own, as a way to encourage them to donate to a great cause. There are so many charities out there that need support, and products offer the opportunity for widespread awareness. A lot of celebrities are also more than willing to collaborate with well known designers to promote a fundraising initiative, which brings even more attention to a cause. Fashion is a huge industry of designers, editors, and models that are all in a position to spread the word about worthy causes, so a glamorous fashion show is the perfect way to create the buzz needed to meet any fundraising goal.

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