Using Fashion PR to Teach Social Responsibility across Disciplines and Cultures: Fashion, Social Reponsibility, Public Relations as Change Agents

By Wilma R. King and Giancarlo Polenghi.

Published by The Organization Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Red and green are important colors for Italians, not just because the colors embody and represent the country’s brand, “Made in Italy,” but also because the country’s fashion world has become central to the world’s social and environmental movements demonstrated through its many examples of social caring, from Valentino’s “Red” campaign to “green” movements such as partnering with African countries to improve the countries’ living conditions and help alleviate hunger. In cooperation with Rome’s Fashion association, Alta Roma, Fashion for Good, an international non profit organization, has organized five roundtables with haute couture designers and non-profit organizations during the January and July Fashion Weeks. Particularly in the current environment of increased entrepreneurial spirit and development, Fashion for Good encourages the fashion world to examine its values of social responsibility and ethical practices and seeks to encourage the fashion world to develop a greater awareness of its actions. The July 2007, roundtable focused on two projects developed by the Italian and American students. In both cases, class projects evolved into business ventures. Italian fashion design students addressed the problems of individuals with Alzheimer’s, creating garments with functionality and comfort. The garments will be manufactured by an Italian company that designs specially for amputees, paraplegics and quadriplegics. In the second case, American public relations students addressed the challenges of the blind and visually impaired. These students literally became a voice for those individuals by creating a voice activated website and by asking the industry to consider Braille labels in clothing. White Cane Label purports to be the voice for nearly 200 million people worldwide. In July alone, the story of the White Cane Label was told by more than 45 media outlets worldwide, including Reuters, BBC worldwide and National Public Radio.

Keywords: Leadership, Ethics, Social Responsibility, Values-centered Leadership, Globalization, Corporate Behavior

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.147-162. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.217MB).

Wilma R. King

Associate Professor of Public Relations, Department of Communication, College of Liberal Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, New York, USA

Assoc. Prof. Wilma R. King and Giancarlo Polenghi are co-founders of Fashion for Good, an Italian-based non-profit organization dedicated to identifying and promoting outstanding examples of ethics and social reponsibility in the fashion world. King is an associate professor of PR at Rochester Institute of Technology. Polenghi is both a marketing/PR business owner and educator, having taught in the USA, the Phillipines and Italy. Their initiatives to promote strategic partnerships between the fashion industry and non-profit organizations began seven years ago. Through an international collaboration, presentations on Fashion for Good initiatives have spanned three continents, in Italy, the United States and Australia.

Dr. Giancarlo Polenghi

Professore Incaricato, Marketing dei Servizi, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Firenze, Toscana, Italy


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