As women, we work hard and we play hard. And we care about how our feet look and feel while doing it. Our shoe fetish feels a lot more "right" knowing that many top shoe designers are highly regarded in the philanthropic world. Many of them raise awareness and donate millions to diverse causes from agricultural scholarships to rape centers. Here are just a few examples of shoe brands that give back.
Miuccia Prada, granddaughter to the fashion empire’s founder Mario Prada, started a nonprofit organization in 1993 called Prada Arte Milano to support contemporary art and industrial building in Milan. It has been renamed to the Prada Foundation and has broadened focus to include photography, cinema, design and architecture.
Jimmy Choo’s philanthropic efforts seem to be as dynamic and diverse as his shoe designs. He has partnered with The Elton John Foundation and has raised millions for a South African Rape Centre. He designed a one-of-a-kind line of shoes to raise funds and awareness for the disaster in Fukushima, Japan. He used local fabrics and silks as well as shoe making techniques with all proceeds donated to local organizations. Co-Founder Tamara Mellon has recently launched the Jimmy Choo Foundation which is focused on women’s empowerment.
Donna Karen has been a distinguished philanthropist her entire career. She uses her company’s visibility and resources for a number of social causes including AIDS awareness and education, Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and - along with her husband - formed the Karan Weiss Foundation in 1999. In 2007, she began the Urban Zen Initiative, which works to advance wellness, preserve culture and empower children. She also works closely with the Clinton Global Initiative to support and develop Haitian Artists.
When sample shoes build up to a sizable supply for Manolo Blahnik, they are taken to a sample sale at Litchfield, Connecticut’s Arethusa Farm. The sale benefits the Arethusa Farm Scholarship Fund, which helps agriculture students pay for their education.
BCBG Max Azria
One of the most philanthropic couples in Las Angeles, Max Azria and Lubov Azria support an array of compelling causes. The American Cancer Society as well as Susan G. Koman for the Cure are just two. Their interests span into the art world and include NYC’s Whitney Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art, or MOCA, Los Angeles.
This short list is really just the tip of the fashion iceberg as to what socially conscious designers do with their time and resources. As a consumer, we have the opportunity to make informed choices and choose where our money goes... right down to the shoes that we buy. It's just another way to feel good while looking good.