Fashion

Giving back is new black

STEPHANIE GAVLAK

October 24, 2012

After reviewing hundreds of ‘looks’ shown on the runway at this year’s Perth Fashion Festival, local fashion designers are proving that the biggest trend this season is giving back to the local community.

The trend comes after 10 not-for-profit groups aligned with the 2012 Perth Fashion Festival, including at the VIP Closing Night ‘Giving Back is the New Black’.

The night showcased 15 unique interpretations of the classic black dress made by leading Western Australian designers.

Designers involved included Ruth Tarvydas, Wheels & Dollbaby, Poppy Lissiman, Zhivago, Fenella Peacock, Megan Salmon, Morrison, Story By Tang, One Fell Swoop, Ae’lkemi, Paper Skye, Little Gracie, Breathless, Ange Lang, and Garth Cook.

After the closing night, each dress was made available for bidding via an online auction until the end of October.

Money raised from the dresses will be donated towards ‘Ready to Work’, a not-for-profit organisation aiding disadvantaged women entering the workforce.

Festival Director Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan said she was honoured to support Ready to Work and hoped to make the initiative an annual affair.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, we understand how critical it is to have support from the wider community, not just from individuals within a specific industry,” Ms Harvey-Hanrahan said.

“Over the years we have witnessed the ability and power of fashion to influence popular culture and social trends.

“By engaging with charities such as Ready to Work, we hope to make supporting a charity part of everyone’s everyday lives.”

Participating designer Kylie Radford of Morrison said her involvement was a great way of showing that the fashion industry was not just a “one-way street”.

“Traditionally, people in the fashion industry have the sense that it’s all about what designers can get out of their customers and not about what they give back,” Ms Radford said.

“It seems the WA fashion industry has now matured to the point where people realise that if you can give something back, there is so much more fulfillment in that.

“For us, it’s a given that we don’t think twice about helping out if we know that we have the capacity to do it.”

PPR Executive Director Peter Harris said partnerships such as those with the Perth Fashion Festival could give charities the opportunity to raise their profiles.

“The festival’s decision to partner with 10 leading WA charitable organisations this year provided everyone, including all sponsoring companies, the chance to support a number of fantastic causes,” Mr Harris said.

But he said the level of publicity surrounding the partnerships should be respectful to the charity.

“The promotion of the organisation supporting the charity should always be secondary and focus primarily on the activities and initiatives of the charity,” Mr Harris said.

“In some cases, companies prefer to keep their level of support for charities confidential.”

Kylie Radford said she did not see the need to always promote her label’s links to charities.

“If you’re going to give, you don’t necessarily have to let everyone know about it,” Ms Radford said.

“My opinion is that you give for the sake of giving from the bottom of your heart, not so that you get something else out of it.”

Apart from Ready to Work, the festival also collaborated with Lotterywest, Australian Red Cross and Association for the Blind WA.

Mariella Harvey-Hanrahan said she looked forward to again working with charities at the 2013 Perth Fashion Festival.

“We see trends come and go, but after such overwhelming support received this year we think giving back will be around for a while,” she said.

Photos: Stephanie Gavlak

Categories: Fashion

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