Couture for Charity: Cause Marketing on the Rise

By Katherine Sauceda


Fashion brands of all kinds have been known for their style and quality. The runways are stocked full with glitz and glamour and there is never a shortage of their equally as glamorous clientele. Recently, however, the high-end and everyday fashion brands are starting to be known for a different type of notoriety.

One does not have to go too far to see this trend. Yasmin Rahimi, a third year fashion merchandising major at the University of Georgia, began a charitable clothing line when she was only 16. She donates the profits made from her runway shows to breast cancer research and community awareness. Couture for Charity became a reality when Rahimi decided she wanted to use her love of fashion for good.

“I was raised in a household where giving back to those who need the most is the most important thing we could learn… giving back and doing what I love was the worthiest cause I could think of,” Rahimi said.

Raising over $30,000 with the help from sponsors this summer, Rahimi hopes to build her brand and get the attention of iconic publications such as Vogue.

“That was always my dream. I always thought ‘how to do I get in there?’. I want to become important enough for them to write about me,” Rahimi commented.

Many well-known brands are giving back to society as well by financially contributing to the charities of their choice. In 2012, Tod’s, an Italian high-end leather shoe retailer, decided to help restore one of its country’s best-known monuments: the Roman Colosseum.

“It is the duty of successful Italian companies to help out their country,” said Diego Della Valle, chief executive of the fashion group, in a published New York Times article.

Molly Gunn, founder of Selfish Mother, a casual-wear clothing brand, similarly did the same thing. Maybe not to the extent of Tod’s contribution, she donated 10 euros for every sale of its shirts worth 30 euros and sweaters worth 50 euros to a nongovernmental organization that helps women in countries affected by war, Women for Women International.

Why is this now becoming a trend?

Tweak Your Biz, an online business community, provided an explanation. Cause marketing is the effort done by the company seeking to donate to promote a charity’s non-profit cause. It is an important factor to consider Looking back at Tod’s, it contributed to the restoration of its country’s most beloved monuments. Tod’s customers saw the interest the brand had in their country. Even though self-promotion was not the company’s motivation behind the restoration project, its sales steadily increases, according to Statista, a market research company.

Cause marketing can also increase exposure. The brand will not only be visible to their audience but the charities’ as well. Studies done by Gráinne Fitzsimons, Canada Research Chair in Social Cognition at the University of Waterloo, on brand exposure have shown that customers respond to brand characteristics. Meaning, if a brand characterizes itself as a supporter of character, its customers will fall right in line with them. Arezou Taeed, a marketing major at the University of Georgia concurred with these findings.

“I see this all the time with brands like TOMS [a for-profit shoe and apparel company created to help those in need]. People are more likely to buy from you if you support a charity because it makes them feel good. Makes them feel like they are giving back as well,” said Taeed.


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