#PrayforJapan: Fashion Industry Rallies to Aid Earthquake Victims

By: Kelly Ahern, guest blogger

With crisis tearing across Japan it’s clear that the Japanese people need our help.

Their suffering and the tragedy that resulted from an unfathomable triple threat—earthquake, tsunami and now impending nuclear meltdown—has made each and every one of us re-evaluate our lives, what really matters and all that we have to be thankful for.

Reports state that the damages suffered by northern Japan have already reached a crippling level of over $100 billion U.S. dollars.

Thankfully, in this era of social media and “viral” news relief efforts have launched across the globe.

If branding has taught us anything it’s the simple fact that it certainly helps to have a strong brand backing any sort of initiative.

Using your brand do to “social good” employs a whole other element—not only does it convey to your community that you are genuine and compassionate, but it allows well-known brand names and celebrities to capitalize on their popularity by adding credibility and power to a worthy cause.

Tadashi Yanai & Fast Retailing

Japan’s largest retailer recently demonstrated that humanitarianism is always is never out of style.

Fashion retail billionaire, Tadashi Yanai, founder and president of Uniqlo‘s parent company Fast Retailing, has announced that he plans to donate 1 billion yen – roughly 12.2 million U.S. dollars – of his own personal fortune towards relief efforts in northeastern Japan.

Additionally, Fast Retailing will be donating an additional 400 million yen – $4.9 million – from company’s various financial resources.

According to a recent statement from Japan’s Nikkei stock exchange, an additional 400 million yen ($4.9 million) will come from the company’s various coffers, or financial resources. The financial donations will fund relief efforts being conducted by a number of aid groups, including the Japanese Red Cross.

Uniqlo is expanding its humanitarian efforts far past monetary donations—the fashion retail conglomerate will also be distributing coats, jeans, towels and 300,000 pairs of its Heattech thermal underwear—representing yet another source of aid—equaling $8.6 million. Consumers are also encouraged to donate clothing at any of the retail-chain stores under the Fast Retailing umbrella; including Uniqlo, Theory, Comptoir de Cotonniers, g.u., Princess tam.tam and Theory worldwide.

Bergdorf Goodman

Fast Retailing isn’t the only fashion retailer leveraging its brand for good.

Luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman has transformed its Facebook page into a disaster relief portal, allowing visitors and “fans” to donate to various relief organizations including the American Red Cross, Shelter Box and Doctors without Borders.

Gilt Groupe

Gilt Groupe, the popular discount fashion retailer – which also owns the well-known Gilt flash sale sites – has teamed up with Global Giving to accept donations going to organizations providing medical care and other aid to Japanese victims.

Gilt City, the local branch of Gilt Groupe, is rallying their private-sale site members to donate to the cause.

Gilt City shoppers even have the option to take their spending a step further by helping out those on the ground, physically involved in relief efforts; from delivering books and supplies to children affected by the catastrophe to assisting in general emergency aid response, there are a variety of ways that Gilt members and their local community can help those in need.

Furthermore, Gilt City has promised to match the profits from each members’ donation.

Japan’s very own, Gilt City Tokyo branch has asked each of its members to donate 500 yen – approximately $6 U.S. dollars – which Gilt City itself will then match; up to one million yen – roughly $12,000 – in donations to the Japan Red Cross.

Lady Gaga

It seemed like Lady Gaga was the first A-lister to jump-start the #PrayforJapan relief initiatives.

The popstar designed a white bracelet with red lettering that reads “We Pray for Japan.”

The bracelets retail for $5.

“Little Monsters, show your support for Japan with this ‘We Pray For Japan’ wristband!”

stated on the sale site.

“Choose your price to add an additional donation with your wristband.

All proceeds go directly to Japan relief efforts.”

According to her Twitter account, her Little Monsters have already helped to raise $250,000 in the first 48-hours.


A number of designers have raised awareness about the disaster by taking to their Twitter accounts.

Countless designers have appealed to their mass social communities by urging them to consider the fate of the Japanese people—rather than spend money on a luxury handbag or couture cocktail dress, consumers should be focused on helping those in need.

Designer Prabal Gurung tweeted,

“Please continue to help Japan.

Every penny, thoughts and prayers.”

The unofficial Twitter for Vera Wang commented:

“I am so deeply saddened for the Japanese people, unable to stop watching.”

Last but not least, fashion vixen Diane von Furstenberg encouraged consumers to think about the destruction at hand,

“The images we get from Japan are devastating! How can we help?”

The list of philanthropic giving goes on and on.

The fashion industry is rallying together using their brand names, reputation and star power to generate not only funds, but an overall awareness:

Steven Alan is donating 15% of all sales made by March 17th, to the International Medical Corps, which is currently on the ground in Japan directly involved with the response efforts and providing critical supplies to survivors.

Rebecca Minkoff has started her own Japan relief initiative, donating $100 for every red handbag purchased on her site to the Red Cross.

You can view her Japan Relief handbags in a special tab on her official site.


Kelly Ahern is a recent Roger Williams University graduate living in New England. Graduating with a degree in Communications-Public Relations and a Core Concentration in Italian, Ahern is an aspiring PR professional who loves social media, fashion and traveling. Currently she is a Social Media & Content Strategist for a Rhode Island-based digital marketing firm. You can find her on Twitter @Kelly_Ahern.

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