As if there wasn’t enough to love about H&M, the company is pairing up once again with Designers Against AIDS and a score of celebrities to raise money and awareness to help fight HIV/AIDS. Dita Von Teese, Katy Perry, Cyndi Lauper, N.E.R.D. and Yoko Ono are among the stars collaborating with H&M to design t-shirts, t-shirt dresses, leotards and tanks for both men and women. Men might want to skip the leotard look though, it’ll do you no favours.
H&M is donating 25% of the sales price of all items to youth HIV/AIDS awareness projects so for once during this recession you can feel good about a shopping spree. Plus, t-shirts are retailing for around $19.90 so it won’t break the bank if you pick up more than one.
Onto the goods themselves: the collection, to be released May 28, is bright and colourful so it’s perfect for the summer. “The designs have a real 80’s feel to them,” says Ann-Sofie Johansson, H&M’s head of design, “there’s lots of white, bright colours and graffiti-like prints. Girls can wear the pieces with mini’s, or worn denim and big jewellery, while boys can team them with coloured jeans or rolled-up chinos—it all adds to that 80s feeling.” The collection offers a stylish splash of nostalgia without cultivating the vintage Pat Benatar look of Ridgemont High.
The safe sex message of Fashion Against AIDS is clear without venturing into unhip, preachy territory, and the various celebrity designs are unique enough that there’s something to suit every personal style. N.E.R.D.’s design is a colourful graphic T that reads “USE YOUR BRAIN”, Katy Perry’s shows internal organs on the outside, and Robyn says to protect your body with a T adorned with printed diamonds. Cyndi Lauper’s design is a true throwback to the 80’s with, “Girls Just Wanna Have Safe Sex” scrawled in pink lipstick on a black tank—not for the faint of heart. One of our favourite shirts is by NYC electronic duo Dangerous Muse, who use an anatomical yet stylized heart to portray their “safe love” message. “Safe sex and love are intimately connected and that’s what we’re trying to show here,” explains Dangerous Muse member Tom Napack.
This year’s beneficiaries of the Fashion Against AIDS proceeds are Designers Against AIDS, YouthAIDS, UNFPA and MTV Staying Alive. The project is as much about consciousness of the disease as fundraising, though, and the in-your-face style of the collection is great for that. With at least 40 000 Americans infected each year it’s clear that the dialogue about safe sex is still not open enough even in North America, so put the cause out there and look good doing it.