Saturday, October 13, 2012

Designer brands boosting CSR efforts

Professor Gan ho-seob, left, Frida Giannini, center, creative director at Gucci, and Kim Kyung-chul, manager of KOSAF, gave a special talk to university seniors at Seoul’s Hongik University in April. / Courtesy of Gucci Korea

Luxury fashion brands are following in the footsteps of high-street brands such as H&M in corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Swiss watch brand Rolex has honored extraordinary individuals with its Rolex Awards for Enterprise since 1976. The biennial awards are designed to foster the spirit of enterprise around the world.

The 2014 scheme will select five individuals aged between 18 and 30 with creative and ambitious ideas in the areas of applied technology, cultural heritage, environmentalism, exploration and discovery, and science and health.

Submitted projects are assessed on their originality, feasibility and potential for impact. Those selected will receive 50,000 Swiss francs (60 million won). And the winners will gain access to the network of about 100 past laureates and gain international publicity.

Past winners include; Australian bio-engineer Mark Kendall who is developing an inexpensive way to reduce the annual death toll of millions from infectious diseases; Ethiopian Bruktawit Tigabu who aims to tackle the high mortality rate in her country through a television series designed to teach children about health and South African Andrew Muir whose project aims to provide training and jobs to young people orphaned by AIDS. There has been no Korean winner so far.

Applications should be submitted by May 31, 2013. For more information, visit

Italian jeweler Bvlgari started a campaign in 2009 to support the “Rewrite the Future” campaign for Save the Children. The international children’s charity established in the United Kingdom provides education to children living in conflict-affected areas.

The jeweler has raised about 12 million euros (approximately 17 billion won) since 2009 by selling a specially designed silver ring featuring the Save the Children logo engraved inside. Twenty percent of profits from sales of the ring are donated to the organization.

Bvlgari has also created a collection of 15 pieces of jewelry and eight high-end timepieces worth 3 million euros. The collection was presented in Rome at the brand’s retrospective exhibition “Between Eternity and History.” The money the items were sold for was also donated to the charity in 2009.

It has decided to produce more Save the Children rings to generate another 3 million euros until 2013 and take part in other education support programs such as “Healing and Education through Art Program.” It continues to donate 20 percent of the retail price of each item.

The ring is available at all Bvlgari stores worldwide. For more information, visit

Luxury Italian fashion house Gucci set up a 5-year scholarship initiative to support Korean university students majoring in fashion-related fields in April. Titled “The Gucci Scholarship Program,” the leather goods house will award bursary aid for five students for a five-year period. The program was organized in partnership with the Korea Student Aid Foundation (KOSAF). The program also offers the recipients an opportunity to visit Gucci’s leather goods factory in Florence and a fashion show in Milan.

The brand’s creative director Frida Giannini visited Korea in April and gave a special talk in front of about 450 university seniors at Hongik University.

Fashion design/textile art professor Gan ho-seob at the university also participated in the event. Gan is known for his role as a judge on television program “Project Runway Korea.”

More details about application and requirements for the brand’s scholarship program are to be available from December onwards. For more information, visit or

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