Fashion World Rallies for Japan, With Uniqlo’s $17M Donation Leading the Way

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REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Japan’s biggest retailer has demonstrated that humanitarianism is always in fashion.

Retail billionaire Tadashi Yanai, founder and president of Uniqlo’s parent company Fast Retailing, will donate 1 billion yen ($12.2 million) of his personal fortune towards relief efforts in northeastern Japan. An additional 400 million yen ($4.9 million) will come from the company coffers, according to a statement released to Japan’s Nikkei stock exchange. The money will fund relief efforts being conducted by a number of aid groups, including the Japanese Red Cross.

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Uniqlo will also distribute coats, jeans, towels and 300,000 pairs of its Heattech thermal underwear to victims, representing an additional $8.6 million of aid. Consumers can also donate clothing at stores under the Fast Retailling umbrella, including Uniqlo, Theory, Comptoir des Cotonniers, g.u., Princess tam.tam and Theoryworldwide.

Uniqlo isn’t alone in leveraging its fashion cred for good. Luxury retailer Bergdorf Goodman has transformed its Facebook page into a disaster relief portal, allowing visitors to donate to worthy causes including the American Red Cross, Shelter Box and Doctors without Borders. It even allows them to do so directly through their iTunes accounts.

A  number of designers have raised awareness about the disaster on Twitter, and encouraged their clientele to spend their money on helping those in need rather than on another handbag. Designer Prabal Gurung tweeted, “Please continue to help Japan. Every penny, thoughts and prayers.” Vera Wang wrote: “I am so deeply saddened for the Japanese people, unable to stop watching.” And Diane von Furstenberg encouraged consumers to think: “The images we get from Japan are devastating! How can we help?”

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Fresh from her Paris runway debut, Lady Gaga has pitched in too. She’s designed a white bracelet with red lettering that retails on her web site for $5. “Little Monsters, show your support for Japan with this ‘We Pray For Japan’ wristband!” she says on the site. “Choose your price to add an additional donation with your wristband. All proceeds go directly to Japan relief efforts.” She’s already raised $250,000 in the first 48 hours. (via the Mainichi Daily News)

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