Red. In many cultures considered to be the color of emergency, the hue has become synonymous with the fight against AIDS. After Bono and Bobby Shriver founded (RED) in 2006, the philanthropic organization’s crimson logo rapidly gained iconic status. The goal of (RED) was and is to achieve an AIDS-free generation by 2015, notably by providing medication to HIV positive women. This medication helps prevent transmission of the disease from mother to child.
(RED) has raised significant funds by partnering with brands that are iconic in their own right. Each partner brand creates a dedicated product, not necessarily red in color, but incorporating the (RED) logo. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of these Special Edition items goes directly to The Global Fund, which in turn uses the money to finance HIV/AIDS programs in Africa. Large commercial partners of (RED) include megabrands Apple, Starbucks, Converse and American Express. Smaller companies have partnered with (RED) as well, creating Special Editions that bring (RED) to new audiences. In this category, offerings by Bottletop, Solange Azagury-Partridge, FEED, Tourneau and Mophie prove that it’s never been more chic to wear red, especially in the context of fashion with a conscience.
Bottletop is a brand known as much for its socially responsible business model as for its unique use of recycled materials, notably pieced-together bags, purses, and belts made from used bottle tops and aluminum can pull tabs. The resulting material is lightweight, durable and fashion forward. The Bottletop brand has an impeccable style pedigree, as it was founded by Cameron Saul, son of the founder of luxury leather label Mulberry. Original, trendy accessories aside, Saul is best known for his work for the Bottletop Foundation, which raises funds for HIV/AIDS education and awareness through contemporary art and music projects. In light of this history of targeted philanthropy, partnering with (RED) seemed a logical fit.
Among the Bottletop handbags created as (Product) RED Special Editions is the Kristina evening bag. The twinkling purse is both playful and sophisticated, its signature pop top mesh paired with high-fashion red English leather tassels and a chunky chain strap. Ten percent of each sale goes to the Global Fund, and that’s in addition to what is donated to the Bottletop Foundation. To stand out at a cocktail party, pair the bag with Cedric Charlier’s sculptural red suede pumps.
Another fashion brand that’s well-paired with (RED) is FEED. The brainchild of activist and model Lauren Bush, canvas bags bearing the FEED logo were originally designed to benefit the United Nations World Food Programme, which combats hunger in the developing world. The bags became an instant fashion icon, proudly carried by celebrities, socialites, and activists alike. As good nutrition is a key component leading to the success of HIV/AIDS treatments, a FEED/(RED) partnership is only natural. The resulting bag, the (FEED) RED Love 30 Bag, is so named because the sale of each piece funds approximately 30 meals and 30 antiretroviral treatments. Made of natural burlap with green cotton webbing handles and a sturdy faux suede bottom, the satchel is perfect for toting groceries, work documents, or for wear as a casual handbag. Make an outing to the farmer’s market a fashionable affair by pairing the FEED bag with Oliver Peoples‘ scarlet-framed, vintage-chic Alivia sunglasses.
(RED) has also partnered with some iconic brands in the past. One such partnership was with Solange Azagury-Partridge, the English jewelry designer who was once hand-picked by Tom Ford to be creative director at Boucheron and has gained a cult-like following for her eponymous collection. Her outrageous baubles, which are as precious as they are provocative and colorful, are inspired by both history and pop culture, and often rock a Studio 54-like aesthetic — when they’re not channeling Cleopatra, that is.  Azagury-Partridge’s best known creation is the Hot Lips ring, a glossy enamel-on-silver confection that has garnered a place in the Victoria and Albert Museum’s permanent collection.
There is a vintage, costume-y air to the piece, which is redolent of Rolling Stones concert tees and Debbie Harry posters while retaining an undeniably lux appeal. The ring comes in a wide assortment of colors, but the most fabulous version, a deep, glossy red, was the Special Edition (RED) collaboration. A whopping 50% of the profits from the sale of this $1,650 ring go to The Global Fund. And Azagury-Partridge didn’t stop at a single product: She also created a (RED) version of her iconic anatomical heart necklace for World Aids Day. Match your mouth to your jewelry by slicking on a carmine coat of Dolce & Gabbana’s new, aptly named, Iconic lipstick.
Most people now count on their smartphones to tell time, so watch designs have been forced to go beyond the basic in order to remain relevant. Gone is the era of the subtle timepiece: formerly utilitarian, wrist wear has become a fashion accessory in its own right, primarily meant to be seen. And for high visibility, what better than the color red?
Swiss watch company Tourneau also had a limited time partnership with (PRODUCT)RED, and decided to “change the course of time” by giving the 35mm watch from its TNY series a RED-inspired makeover. The attention-grabbing wrist strap is made of luxurious scarlet alligator skin, and the high-contrast dial features crimson numerals and hands on a deep black background. The (TOURNEAU)RED Special Edition 35mm was a worthy investment while it lasted, and 15% of the retail price for each watch was given to the Global Fund. As for that smartphone, lest it feel left out, treat it to a RED makeover of its own: a Mophie juice pack air (PRODUCT)RED will provide your iPhone with a rechargeable battery case as well as a new poppy-hued outfit. Five percent of each juice pack air sale also goes to The Global Fund.
Though there is certainly a (RED) product for most tastes and budgets, those truly suffering from erythrophobia (fear of the color red) can go to the United Nations Foundation website, a strictly blue-based affair, and donate directly to The Global Fund there.
Text by Karena Akhavein