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Changing Room

With Gucci’s “Chimes for Change” campaign and Salman Khan’s new Being Human store,fashion is now all about hope.

Written by Namrata Zakaria | Published: March 6, 2013 2:17:28 am

With Gucci’s “Chimes for Change” campaign and Salman Khan’s new Being Human store,fashion is now all about hope.

Only a decade or so ago,fashion labels were an elitist bunch. Their only concern was selling expensive clothes,handbags and perfumes — marketing themselves as caretakers of heritage and bank vaults of luxury. Presently,led by a few people’s ethical voices,fashion began to reconsider its strategies.

The first big blow-up to the industry was AIDS. While every celebrity —from film stars to rockstars — was crying out for the new HIV-ridden world,fashion began a few charities to follow suit. Then came environmental concerns — led by Al Gore and Leonardo diCaprio — and luxury and high-street labels began to do their bit to contain their carbon footprint. Indigenous and homegrown manufacture soon was the new black,and the entire world became interested in going back to its roots.

The style world’s penchant for altruism and social change continues through Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m not a Plastic Bag” canvas totes,Bono’s “Edun” line,Blake MyCoskie’s “TOMS” shoes that support Argentina,model Liya Kebede’s Lemlem label that aids economic sustenance in Ethiopia,“ASOS Africa” that creates jobs in Kenya and Lauren Bush’s “FEED”. As part of Gucci’s seven-year history with women’s emancipation at Unicef,its new “Chimes for Change” campaign shows just how much good fashion can do.

The recently launched initiative is led by Gucci’s creative head Frida Giannini,singer Beyonce and actor Salma Hayek Pinault. It aids women’s empowerment in education,healthcare and,importantly,justice,by drawing on international stories,from Pakistani Malala Yousefzai’s activism to violence in India,Ireland,South Africa and the US. “I hope that through Chimes we can help the voices calling for change become so loud that they cannot be ignored,” Giannini said at a TED lunch last week. Gucci has mega partners on this one — the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,Facebook,Huffington Post and Hearst magazines. In India,one immediately thinks of Salman Khan’s Being Human foundation as a clothing line with a conscience. On the heels of opening a flagship store at Mumbai’s Linking Road four weeks ago,Khan has announced the label will now make women’s wear. His women friends,family and fans would earlier wear small-size men’s tees. This is big news,simply because women’s fashion will take Being Human’s turnover from Rs 35 crore to possibly Rs 350 crore within two years. Of course,children’s clothes would be their next bet,considering Khan’s popularity among children.

Admittedly,much of the industry’s heart comes from its desire to please more people,its upside overwhelms its motives. You cannot create awareness on a large scale unless you aim for popular culture and populist modes (So Salman,please remain a superstar). Besides,shopping can now take away the guilt of spending.

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