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Beene Campaign to Promote Charitable Efforts

Since Geoffrey Beene’s death in 2004, the foundation running the designer’s company has donated more than $75 million.

NEW YORK — Since Geoffrey Beene’s death in 2004, the foundation running the designer’s company has donated more than $75 million to cancer research, education and animal protection. This fall, a new in-store campaign will be launched to raise awareness about the company’s good deeds.

Geoffrey Beene Gives Back, a program developed with the company’s licensees, will use hangtags and card inserts on the brand’s apparel to call out the trust’s considerable financial commitments.

“I don’t think the public is aware of Mr. Beene’s legacy,” said G. Thompson Hutton, the sole trustee of Geoffrey Beene’s estate and the designer’s onetime personal lawyer. “He should be recognized for doing the right thing.”

Beene, who died from cancer at age 80, required in his will that net revenues from Geoffrey Beene Inc. go to the foundation that bears his name.

“When he got sick, he couldn’t believe that in a country like ours, with all our achievements, that we hadn’t found a cure for cancer,” recalled Hutton, who also serves as the president and CEO of Geoffrey Beene Inc., which runs the apparel business. “He wanted to change that.”

So far the trust has awarded nearly $50 million to Memorial Sloan-Kettering for a cancer research center as well as $10 million each to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Medical Center in New York. This year Hutton established a separate foundation to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s, and also allocated $3 million to a scholarship endowment at YMA. In addition to a $5 million commitment to the CFDA, the foundation has also given grants to organizations that fight children’s disease and the abuse of women.

The foundation has not yet released its 2006 budget, but total sales at Geoffrey Beene Inc., from which the foundation derives most of its income, topped $600 million last year.

Lanier Clothes, which is relaunching Geoffrey Beene clothing at Macy’s this fall, will kick off the awareness campaign in late October. Blue and gray cards detailing the charitable donations will be inserted into the breast pocket. An accompanying lapel pin reads, “Hope. Cure. Life.”

“When I came on board at Lanier Clothes I was amazed and inspired by the extraordinary contributions of Geoffrey Beene Inc. to such relevant and worthy research,” said Traci Young, vice-president of marketing for Lanier Clothes. “I felt that our customers not only should know but also would want to know that the purchase of a [Geoffrey Beene] suit makes a difference.”

The foundation, which licenses Geoffrey Beene’s name to more than 20 companies, said most of its partners have signed on to support the awareness campaign, and a full rollout is expected by spring 2008. Among them are Phillips-Van Heusen for dress shirts, sportswear and retail operations; Randa for neckwear; Block Sportswear for trousers; and George Weintraub for outerwear.