Giving back is always in style and Europe’s fashion houses are a prime example of this simple practice.
Fendi donated $2.7 million to save Italy’s Trevi fountain in January of 2013. Tod’s promised $34 million to restore the Coliseum in back 2011 and the restorations started in 2013. Most recently, Bulgari gave $2 million to restore the Spanish Steps in Rome last March.
The generosity from the fashion houses comes at a critical time for Italy. After the market crash of 2008, public funding dried up and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had to ask private investors to step in and make up for the money shortage.
“You can draw a lot of parallels with the Victorian philanthropists of the great industrial age,” said Lucie Greene, editor of LS:N Global, a trends forecasting agency at London’s Future Laboratory. “Wealthy industrialists in U.K. were making so much money, they felt it was their Christian compulsion to give to society and create living environments that were beautiful. Something similar is unfolding now.”
The donations, however, are not met without controversy,
In exchange for funding the restoration of The Coliseum, Tods negotiated the right to publish its logo on tickets to the venue. One customer wasn’t pleased and went to court to try and block the deal. Luckily, the case was eventually dismissed.
“These donations and sponsorships help brands align themselves with the principles of philanthropy espoused by wealthy, intelligent, sophisticated consumers,” Greene said. “In some ways, luxury brands are emulating the behavior of their high-net-worth customers.”
We think it’s the duty of those who make beautiful things to want to do what they can to preserve the city that inspires their work. It’s the least the fashion houses could do, no?
Controversies aside, this is a great look for both fashion and Italy.