Philanthropy And Luxury: Some Of The “Giving Back” In The Luxury Industry In 2015
With all of the unrest in the world today, “giving back” has to become an important thing for anyone living comfortably.
And while lots of luxury brands, including watch brands, do give back in one way or another, I’d like to single out a few individuals in the world of high-end timekeeping that have gone the extra mile toward helping humanity in current crises.
Naturally, Peter Thum has to come first on any such list. In fact, for much of his professional life he has been working as a humanitarian entrepreneur.
Thum began his altruistic path by founding of Ethos Water, a bottled water brand that used its profits to fund clean-water projects in Africa. After selling it to Starbucks, he launched Liberty United, whose fashionable jewelry is made from the metal of illegal guns and bullets taken off American streets. Up to 25 percent of the brand’s profits are contributed to programs to reduce gun violence (especially for children) in communities across the USA.
See some current jewelry pieces by clicking Every Piece Of Liberty United Jewelry Helps Save Someone From Gun Violence.
Then came Fonderie 47 and the central three-minute tourbillon watch called Inversion Principle that contains components made of destroyed AK-47s from Africa. Again, the purpose of the brand is to generate profits to fund just causes, in this case reducing the proliferation of assault weapons in Africa.
However, Fonderie 47 would hardly have come to my attention had Inversion Principle not been so extraordinary in so many ways and if Thum himself had not impressed me so greatly with his passionate purpose.
We have reported extensively on this timepiece in Forget Ploughs To Ploughshares: Fonderie 47 Transforms AK-47s Into Haute Horlogerie and Behind The Lens: Fonderie 47 Inversion Principle.
Just recently, Fonderie 47 introduced its latest luxurious, collaborative project: the Peerless Fonderie 47 pen made with Cross. You can find out about this in The Pen That Is Mightier Than The Sword: Fonderie 47’s Exclusive New Collaboration With Cross.
I’m sure I hardly need to explain the world’s refugee situation as of late 2015, with so many people on the run from their home countries due to war, persecution, and other conflicts at an all-time high. According to the UN Refugee Agency “. . . worldwide displacement is at the highest level ever recorded . . .”
In fact, one in every 122 individuals on this planet is currently a refugee, internally displaced, or seeking asylum. “If this were the population of a country, it would be the world’s 24th biggest.”
According to this UN report, which includes all statistics on forced displacement up through the end of 2014, the amount of refugees in Europe is up by 51 percent.
This BBC article provides an excellent statistic overview of the European situation as of late December 2015. Germany has now taken in more than one million refugees in what is appropriately called the “refugee crisis.”
No one in the luxury world has really taken on the subject; admittedly, it is a sticky one. However, during our travels in the Dresden area in the fall of 2015 – which is a geographical region sorely divided on the subject of refugees – Ian and I noticed that some of the watch companies in the Glashütte area are thankfully openly calling for acceptance and tolerance.
And in a further step, A. Lange & Söhne CEO Wilhelm Schmidt announced on December 7, 2015 that instead of buying press gifts for the attendees of its celebration in honor of the 200th anniversary of Ferdinand Adolph Lange’s birth, the company is using the money to provide five refugees with German lessons (one of the biggest problems with local integration). If these five can satisfactorily learn the language, they will also be schooled as watchmaker apprentices.
You can find out more about this initiative as well as the celebration in Heartbeat: 1815 Tourbillon Handwerkskunst By A. Lange & Söhne.
Earthquake in Nepal
This may seem like old news now in light of everything else that has gone on in 2015. But it wasn’t all that long ago that a series of earthquakes in the Himalayas destroyed Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. In fact, it was only on April 25, 2015 that this occurred.
Before this tragedy occurred, Michael Kobold of Kobold Watch had already been working on a philanthropic adventure set to help Kathmandu and its ailing fire department called the Kathmandu Fire Truck Expedition. You can learn more about it in Michael Kobold Helps Devastated Kathmandu With Fire Truck Expedition. You Can Help Too.
If you’re wondering why Kobold puts so much energy into aiding Nepal, you can find out more by clicking The Kathmandu Backstory: Michael Kobold And Sir Ranulph Fiennes On Conquering Everest, Being Loyal, And Literally Exercising Gratitude.
Through Kobold’s Soarway Foundation, you too can also do what you can to help rebuild Nepal.
Looking back over the events of this year, I feel gratitude that so many of the people and organizations in our luxury sphere are in a position to lend a helping hand to those in need as such excellent examples.