Luxury brands join charity donations

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jun 18, 2012 - 20:12
  • Updated : Jun 18, 2012 - 20:14
Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Ferragamo and Hermes begin charity programs with eye on growing Korean market

Louis Vuitton Korea signed Wednesday an agreement to help the Purme Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to building rehabilitation hospitals in Korea.

The France-based luxury fashion brand made a donation toward patient treatment and construction of speech disorder treatment rooms at Sejong Maeul Purme Center, the first-ever private sector-led rehab institution for disabled children to be completed in central Seoul next month.

Although speech disorder is one of the most common afflictions of disabled children, many families have a hard time treating it due to the expensive medical fees required.

Cho Ouk, CEO of Louis Vuitton Korea, said that the partnership is another step true to Louis Vuitton’s founding values, which are preserving the past and preparing new generations for a better future. 
Louis Vuitton Korea CEO Cho Ouk (left) and head of Purme Foundation head Kang Ji-won pose at the signing ceremony last week. (Louis Vuitton Korea)

“We hope that this initiative will help children develop the skills to express their thoughts and be independent in society,” said Cho.

Kang Ji-won, head of Purme Foundation, said that nearly 5,000 disabled children will be able to receive treatment thanks to the donation.

Many so-called “luxury” brands from Europe are showing interest in contributing to Korean society. Insiders say the companies made it a strategy to become friendlier with Korean consumers as the country became one of their biggest markets. For several years, the brands have been criticized for being stingy in donations here while their sales skyrocketed.

Louis Vuitton also made a donation to SOS Children’s Village Korea last year to support the construction of a children’s library in Daegu Metropolitan City. Employees at the firm also donated about 1,000 toys and books to the library earlier this year.

The French company is also offering internships to those over 18 years old at SOS Children’s Village Korea. Eight students from the village recently did a two-month internship at Louis Vuitton boutiques in major cities including Seoul.

Gucci is making social contributions here for the first time since its launch in Korea 14 years ago.

It signed a partnership with Korea Student Aid Foundation in April to start a scholarship program for Korean students studying fashion. The program will provide scholarships for five students every year for five years starting 2013. The students will also be able to visit Gucci headquarters in Italy and attend fashion shows.

The Italian brand also vowed to donate 500 million won within the next five years to the National Trust of Korea at the opening ceremony of the Korea Furniture Museum’s special Gucci archival exhibition “Timeless Touch of Craftsmanship” in April. The fund will be used to preserve items of Korean cultural heritage that are at risk of being lost.

“Gucci hopes to be a small help to Korean society through its interest and investment in the local community, as well as by introducing its various products and services,” said Patrizio di Marco, president and CEO of Gucci during his visit to Seoul in April.

Ferragamo has also been making donations since last year to Seungil Hope Foundation which supports patients with Lou Gehrig disease.

Hermes Korea has been providing support in the culture and arts arena. It established the Hermes Foundation Missulsang, or art award, here in 2000 for up-and-coming artists and has been supporting the winners and shortlisted artists. Since 2001, it has also been supporting Busan International Film Festival. 

By Park Min-young  (