MILAN — Giorgio Armani has kept many of his philanthropic activities on the quiet side for years, but he now believes the time has come to speak up, given the complexities and uncertainties of the current moment.
“It’s important today to call on those that are keen to help, and not only. The moment is tough, we should all be involved,” Armani told WWD.
On Friday, the Armani Group unveiled new initiatives aimed in particular at supporting nonprofit organizations in the fight against the pandemic and poverty, as well as those focused on environmental protection.
Asked for the reason he has decided to go public with some of these activities, Armani said he hoped his efforts could be seen as an example. He warned, however, that “charitable initiatives should not become the umpteenth means of communication. Doing good should not bring the attention onto ourselves but on the associations that receive our help. I am adamant about this. In fact, when I can, I don’t publicize these activities.”
Following the lockdowns, the Giorgio Armani boutiques around the world donated part of their revenues to 52 associations working in their respective local areas, including Les Restaurants Du Coeur in Paris; The Trussell Trust in London; Florence in Japan, and the China Soong Ching Ling Foundation. The group will continue to support these associations during the Christmas period and will also renew its customary contribution to Opera San Francesco per i Poveri. This is a storied Milan organization that through the refectory in the Capuchin friars’ monastery has offered free meals and a range of services to the needy and homeless for over 70 years.
Armani has continued to partner with Food1st, an initiative with a dual agenda to support New York City restaurants and help feed emergency service workers and members of the city’s community in need during these unprecedented times.
He is also contributing to Save the Children for a project in Mozambique targeting motherhood and neonatal health. This involves actions for food safety, training, information and welfare programs, and sets out to reach about 26,000 adults and 13,000 children in two years. In addition, the group’s management has decided to add a portion of their salaries to the donation.
Asked to illustrate how he chooses the organizations and what moves him the most, Armani said that “the moral, personal drive” is the main one. “I am convinced that it is the duty of us all as citizens to contribute to the needs of the community, depending on individual possibilities.”
The associations were selected “based on local specifics, in order to have a very extensive scope and action range,” said Armani. “These are initiatives that are particularly active and significant in cities where our boutiques are present. A percentage of sales was set aside with the intention to remain on the territory in a sense of proximity and solidarity with the location.”
With some of these associations, including Save the Children, Armani has already collaborated in the past. “I prefer to work with national organizations that operate in all of the territory and that have a local connotation rather than a single international association. I am interested in those that help people that in this moment are in great difficulty and really need a hand,” explained Armani.
The designer also said that activities promoting the flora and the environment are particularly dear to him because trees “improve the quality of life of everyone while making the urban space more beautiful.”
Through Emporio Armani, the designer pledged involvement in sustainable development with a plan to expand green areas in nine different regions of the world where the brand has a working presence, operating alongside specific local organizations.
The initiative will be launched in Milan, where Emporio Armani with the City Council and Forestami, the city’s reforestation project launched last year that aims at planting three million trees by the end of 2030, are to support the development and enhancement of green areas within area.
The initiative began this month and eventually over 300 trees will be planted in Milan. The environmental initiative is then to be extended to London, supporting the Green Roof project, and to Munich and New York, with a commitment towards the upkeep of some city parks; to Tokyo; to the French village of Saint-Martin-d’Ablois; to some inland regions of Mongolia, and to some areas of Australia, for reforestation and to help spread a new environmental culture.
“Through the urban Green Project, cities will become more habitable, healthier, more welcoming, and let’s not forget, more beautiful. It will remind us that we must take care of the world in which we live, for ourselves and for those who will follow us, above all we must do this together,” added Armani.
Responding to a question about his experience living through this second wave of restrictions in Italy, Armani said it offered an opportunity to be involved with the associations that “touch the life of citizens every day. It is not my habit to get demoralized and to be busy is the best way for me to maintain a sense of presence. Now I want my activities to touch the lives of those that are in serious difficulties, and they are not few. Les Restaurants Du Coeur, for example, is a place that offers a warm meal to those that do not have the money to buy food and is present in all of the main French cities, not only in Paris. It’s a perfect example of the associations that I feel like supporting.”
During the first wave of the coronavirus, Armani showed generosity by donating 1.25 million euros to Italy’s Civil Protection and a range of Italian hospitals and institutions in the country, including the Luigi Sacco, San Raffaele and the Istituto dei Tumori in Milan and Rome’s Istituto Lazzaro Spallanzani. He also contributed to support the hospitals of Bergamo and Piacenza, both badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the Versilia hospital in Tuscany, bringing the total of his donations to 2 million euros. In addition he converted all his four Italian production sites to produce single-use medical overalls for the protection of health-care providers fighting the COVID-19 virus.