Sure, movies like The Devil Wears Prada feature characters like Andy that first believe fashion is a vapid parade of vanity and emptiness, only to have her soul sucked away by shallowness and shiny pretty clothes, handbags and shoes. And let's face it, most of the fashion industry (okay, all of it) is about outer beauty, trendiness, and cutting-edge style.
Yet fashion designers have been focusing on global and social awareness long before Natalie Portman's vegan shoe line with Te Casan—think M.A.C.'s Viva Glam campaign that started in 1994 with that first deep red lipstick, where 100 percent of money made went to raise money for AIDS. Since then, the M.A.C AIDS Fund has raised over $100 million dollars in support of HIV/AIDS awareness, education and research.
One of the first fashion designers to blend fashion with awareness was New York's very own Kenneth Cole. The Brooklyn-born fashion designer began a series of AIDS awareness ads in 1985, when the country didn't know much about the HIV virus except the misperception that it was a "gay" disease. (Now Kenneth Cole also chairs the American Foundation for AIDS Research, or AmfAR as it's more often called.) His Awearness Campaign, which not only has an awesome design pun (spoken like a true word geek), has run clothing ads that advocate everything from safe sex to fighting homelessness. But now Awearness is breaking into (drum roll please) the blogosphere! Launching on Monday, it will feature "Hard times, political landscape, social rights, well being" as topics. Word is that he'll be having writers, bloggers and celebrities post on the site, and he'll also be contributing on a regular basis himself. Kudos to Kenneth for taking a designer label beyond conspicuous consumption for a cause.