Yesterday I was invited to the press presentation of the new H&M Fashion Against Aids collection by Ninette Murk, founder and creative director of Designers Against Aids (DAA). Ninette used to be a fashion journalist until Evisu jeans asked her to help them with customizing some of their denim for a good cause. She was positively surprised when many fashion designers easily agreed on supporting this type of charity and got inspired to found DAA.
Designers Against Aids is a non-profit organization striving to raise HIV/AIDS awareness among young people worldwide making use of pop culture elements such as music, art, photography, sports, film and of course fashion. Over 7,000 people get infected with HIV every day but for too many youngsters AIDS is something that happened in the 1980s to Freddie Mercury. Since 2008 H&M and DAA are collaborating to raise awareness as well as funds. MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, to which Mattias and I are also donating 25% of our book’s royalties, is one of the main beneficiaries of this campaign. So far Fashion Against Aids (FAA) has donated over 41 million Swedish Krona to various international HIV/AIDS projects.
This year’s H&M collection comes with a new twist. Because the HIV/AIDS message is as important for young women as much as it is for young men, the 2011 sporty unisex collection is for everyone to wear in their own way. The collection is available in H&M’s Divided department from 26th April and 25% of sales will be donated to youth HIV/AIDS projects around the world.
“We wanted to create a unisex collection with a sporty vibe. It felt really liberating to think of the cut, the shape and the fabric first before thinking of what gender it should be for. Key pieces are the slogan T-shirts as well as the sports style jacket with zip details, which can be worn in all sorts of ways. FAA is vital because it is still so crucial to make young people aware of HIV and AIDS,” says Ann-Sofie Johansson, Head of Design at H&M.
Past editions of FAA were supported by many celebrities like Rihanna, Timbaland, Katy Perry, Dita von Teese and Tokio Hotel. Among this year’s participating stars from the worlds of film and music are: Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl), Ginnifer Goodwin (Big Love), Nikki Reed (Twilight), Akon and Scissor Sisters.
“Artists are an essential part of our campaigns, as they are role models for so many young people. Celebrities help to spread the message by speaking out about HIV/AIDS prevention. We’re asking them to help spread the safe sex message on their social media: Twitter, Facebook, their own websites and at their concerts too,” explains Ninette Murk, founder and creative director of DAA. For the very first time in the history of the collaboration with H&M, Ninette was able to convince the retailer to sell FAA condoms in their stores too. It’s a personal victory since she has been striving for years to make the safe sex items better available at locations that youngsters worldwide are frequenting.