On the Cutting Edge

The fashion world is showing a renewed interest in political and social activism, and Professor Scafidi discusses what this means in her latest columns for WWD.

The image above is from her most recent article: How Can Fashion ‘Do Good’ Well?

Fashion is finding its political and social voice, but doing good well — in legal and business terms — requires more than strong beliefs, bold statements and good intentions. Just ask Lady Gaga. She promoted the sale of bracelets for an apolitical humanitarian cause, earthquake and tsunami disaster relief for Japan in 2011, only to find herself the target of a class action lawsuit charging that not all of the proceeds had gone to charity. A year and a six-figure settlement later, it was apparent that the claims involved only sales taxes and shipping and handling fees, but reputational harm and legal costs had already accrued. Similar dangers may await designers inexperienced in activism.

And in light of legal changes that stand have a significant impact on the fashion industry, Professor Scafidi’s previous article asks, Where is Fashion’s March on Washington?

To claim a regular place at the negotiating table, even more important than investment of money or time is a proactive rather than reactive agenda that is reflective of the industry as a whole, as opposed to discrete segments. Incisive tweets and statement accessories can be an important part of public discourse, but fashion ultimately needs to draw from deeper wells of examination and expertise to advance a sustained strategic program.