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The charity fashion that doesn’t bear scrutiny

Have you seen this year’s Children in Need pimped-up Pudseys?

Cute aren’t they? Currently on show in Selfridges in London and Manchester before being auctioned at Christie’s on November 15, they’re a great bit of fun (and should be lucrative – last year’s bears raised over £50,000). But staring into Pudsey’s fluffy face brought into sharp focus how disappointing most charity/fashion mash-ups are. Not to diminish the great work charities do, they’d be wise to look to this year’s parade of Pudseys as an example of how well considered these projects not only should be but need to be in order to make a difference.

At a time when shoppers’ budgets are tight, the pieces charities create in collaboration with fashion brands must be as well designed and as good quality as similarly priced non-charity items in the wider market. The biggest trap charities fall into is putting out the dreaded good cause T-shirt. Almost certainly white, almost certainly only OK-quality cotton, the decoration usually takes the form of a hastily knocked-up graphic plastered on the front.

I totally appreciate the cause behind the clothes but if the project has produced a garment, the public have to want to wear it for them to part with their cash. The charity T-shirts from indie Matches are a great example of how the humble shape can be both desirable and donation-building. In working with Mary Katrantzou, JW Anderson, Jonathan Saunders et al to contribute an actual design (as opposed to just their name and a cobbled-together image), the T-shirts are fashionable in their own right.

The bears have the very same properties – Pudsey has always been an endearing character but given a high-fashion makeover (this year’s the second time he’s gone all upmarket) he’s become collectible. Who wouldn’t want a Tom Ford, Prada or Louis Vuitton bear? As we’ll see next week, get the product right and charities will cash in. Something for others to bear in mind…

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