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On The Runway: Wear becasue you care

Charity shopping gives cash to a cause

 by Emma Breysse
 published on Thursday, November 2, 2006


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After failing a test or handling a nasty break-up, some students take out their wallets for a little dose of "retail therapy." But sometimes shopping can make life better for others, too.

Many companies, like Gap and Ralph Lauren, carry cause-conscious products. When students buy certain styles of specially-designed clothing and accessories, these companies donate a portion of the profits to the fight against breast cancer, AIDS and other causes.

Because October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many businesses sold special products to benefit charities like the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Even though October is over, there are still places that sell stylish products that fight breast cancer at the same time.

A minimum of 85 percent of the profits from Ralph Lauren's Pink Pony Line benefit the company's Pink Pony Fund for Cancer Care and Prevention among other charities. The products, including T-shirts and polos bearing the classic Lauren polo pony in its new color, can be found in stores all over the Phoenix metro area. Pink Pony items range in price from $45 for a tank top to $498 for a cashmere-hooded sweater.

Cyber shoppers can also put their money to good use. The gift shop at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation's Web site, komen.org, is open year round. The site features products like scarves, T-shirts and jewelry. All profits benefit the foundation. Prices range from $1 for a pink ribbon pin to $60 for a robe, with most items in the range of $5 to $15.

Those who prefer the color red can look into the new PRODUCT(RED) line to benefit the fight against AIDS. Oprah Winfrey and Bono launched the line, with companies like Gap and Converse on board.

The majority of Gap's products bear slogans like "INSPI(RED)," "ADMI(RED)" and "DESI(RED)" and include designer T-shirts, tote bags and zip-up hoodies. Fifty percent of the profits from Gap's PRODUCT(RED) items go to benefit AIDS charities. The T-shirts are made in Lesotho, an African nation, from cotton grown in Africa. Prices range from $28 for a women's solid short-sleeved T-shirt to $198 for men's jeans.

Converse has also launched a new set of PRODUCT(RED) items. Students hoping to add a little philanthropy to their footwear can buy any pair of Converse shoes with red eyelets, or they can design their own pair of PRODUCT(RED)hi-tops or lo-tops on converseone.com.. Ready-made PRODUCT(RED) Converse shoes cost anywhere from $47 to $295 depending on the materials and design used, and custom shoes cost $60 for canvas and $75 for suede or leather.

Another option is the variety of wristbands available from many charities. These were popularized by Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong bracelets and even brought to campus for tsunami relief.

You can also purchase wristbands to support Bono's ONE foundation to fight poverty and AIDS. The ONE wristbands are sold at store.one.org, along with free-trade label T-shirts. The site also provides links to the foundation's partner organizations, UNICEF and World Vision.

ASU music senior Aileen Kilgore owns a tennis visor with the breast cancer pink ribbon. She says she supports the concept of charity shopping because it raises both money and awareness.

"Also, branding is a great marketing campaign for any company to become well-known and pique people's interests," she says. "It brings in funding and gives people afflicted with the problems a place to turn."

Reach the reporter at: emma.breysse@asu.edu.




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