It's no secret that a popular face paired with a cause creates a lot of buzz, typically on social media around an issue that otherwise might not have gained much public traction. But we couldn't help wonder: Do collaborations between fashion brands and charities actually lead to measurable, quantifiable change?
We asked Naomi Hirabayashi, chief marketing officer of DoSomething.org, an organization whose core message is to activate young people to take action on important issues. They work with artists, fashion designers and digital influencers throughout the year as an integral part of who they are. Last month, the not-for-profit partnered with Alexander Wang at the dawn of his label's 10th anniversary to create a collection of exclusive T-shirts and sweatshirts sold online, at his flagship store in Soho and during his NYFW Spring 2016 show. The shirts completely sold out in the first week!
I collaborated @AlexanderWangNY & @StevenKleinStudio for a portrait series supporting the limited edition Alexander Wang x DoSomething.org capsule collection. 100% of net proceeds from the sale of these pieces support @DoSomething, the largest global organization for social change among young people. All of the pieces are available in AW stores & on AlexanderWang.com #WANG10
Naomi cheerfully explains that the success of their partnership grew from an alignment of both brand messages: Alexander, a young designer who knew exactly what he wanted from a very early age (to be a very famous fashion designer, apparently), and DoSomething.org, an organization that energizes young people at any age to make change. The impact of partnerships between a charitable organization and a fashion designer is created when the two share some sort of core value. Alexander put his full support - and his famous friends - behind DoSomething.org, which led to a lot of amount of money being raised: 50 percent of which will go to over 220 campaigns at the organization, supporting issues from animal welfare to poverty to climate change.
Naomi strongly believes celebrities and influencers have an enormous impact on charitable campaigns, other than their high profile names. Enlisting famous figures has become an essential piece of her organization's strategy to reach young people (aka us), she says, "because doing good shouldn't compete with the things that you already love; it should be integrated within that."
The power of celebrities and fashion designers in the spotlight shouldn't be a competition for attention, but a cohesive partnership to induce effective change. The DoSomething x Wang campaign runs through the end of this fall, so the full scope of its success can't yet be determined. Naomi is confident that its current success will continue, as well as pave the way for future partnerships at this level to happen again.
If non-profit groups want to reach our millennial generation, one that is constantly tuning in to pop culture and celebrities, collaborating with a premiere designer has been proven as a promising way to do it.