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In 2011, New York-based Evie Evangelou had a light bulb moment.
Spurred on by her urge to use the fashion industry as a tool for positive social change, sustainable economic growth and helping to empower women all at once, the philanthropist decided to found Fashion 4 Development (F4D), which is now sponsored by the United Nations.
Fast forward to 2015 and Evangelou, who had previously served as the Deputy Secretary General for the World Federation of the UN in New York, has the likes of Victoria Beckham, Charlize Theron, Diane Kruger, Naomi Campbell, Donna Karan, Natalia Vodianova and Lily Cole as Agents of Change (or global influencers) for F4D. The celebs work on initiatives that empower and advance world culture, for example education, training, and finance – all through the fashion industry.
Credit: courtesy F4D
Campbell, for example, is working to combat Ebola through her organisation Fashion for Relief, putting on runway shows to raise awareness and funds to fight the spread of Ebola. Victoria is the UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador and recently travelled to Kenya with son Brooklyn to raise awareness in local communities about aids.
Credit: Instagram @victoriabeckham
These high-profile celebs have all attended at least one of the coveted annual First Ladies Luncheons hosted by Evangelou, which sees diplomats, fashion VIPs and many other key heavyweights as guests. Last year, VB was presented with the Fashion 4 Development Award for her commitment to making positive change happen and Campbell was acknowledged with the Gold Heart Award for her efforts.
Credit: Instagram @iamnaomicampbell
The charity, which bears Giving Back is the New Luxury as its tagline, also has the support of luxe brands on a global scale. For the past three years, for example, top-shelf Italian liquor brand Disaronno has involved F4D in its ICON project, which engages top Italian designers or houses to “dress” a bottle. All proceeds from the limited edition products go direct to the charity. Past collaborations have included Roberto Cavalli, Versace and Moschino – this year ETRO has stamped its signature paisley over the 2016 collector’s item.
From an activities standpoint, F4D has grown in leaps and bounds and now has initiatives in over 20 countries. One is ModaCARES – a non-profit foundation that supports emerging fashion designers from around the world grow their businesses into a sustainable company and thus enhance economic development. The organisation provides mentorship on production and distribution aspects, as well as organises special events to generate visibility around the brand.
Yet it’s not just the fashion industry’s females who have become involved in this far-reaching organisation – a new sector has been set up called League of Gentlemen. Prominent designer Giovanni Lopresti is one member, and the face of Polo Ralph Lauren, Chris Collins, being the co-founder, with the group yielding as voices of influence for F4D.
Credit: Instagram @iamnaomicampbell
Like Victoria and Naomi, while Chris still has his chic shoes immersed in the fashion industry, his philanthropic work is clearly also of utmost importance. Chris has rebuilt houses in New Orleans, and is a board member for the non-profit foundation Model Home Project, giving talks to troubled teens at his home town of New Jersey.
How can you get involved? Visit the Fashion 4 Development website and support the Disaronno wears Etro initiative. Paisley-print Christmas gifts all round this year, we say. Then you’ll really be giving twice.