Fashion style hasn’t been linked with social activism since hippies protested the Vietnam War, but now that may change. In an era of what some call an epidemic of gun violence — with mass shootings victimizing schoolchildren in Newton and moviegoers in Colorado — a new jewelry company seeks to raise awareness and fund programs for grassroots prevention.
Jewelry for the common good
Liberty United is a jewelry line on a mission. Each unique piece is a huge part of their raison d’etre. Using recycled guns as source material, Liberty United is turning the attention of the fashionable elite toward what founder Peter Thum feels is the most important issue of the day.
A history of social awareness
Thum should know. He’s no stranger to marketing projects with a social conscience. In 2001 he founded Ethos Water, a brand anyone who’s been to Starbucks probably recognizes. The ethos behind Ethos is simple: selling bottled water can increase awareness and provide funds to communities where access to safe drinking water is limited or non-existent.
Ethos became a subsidiary of Starbucks in 2005, and while the company (and parent company Pepsi-Cola) does not donate sums large enough to qualify Ethos as a nonprofit, over the years they have contributed a total of 6 million dollars — money that goes toward sanitation and education in at-risk and needy communities.
Anyone can make a change
With Liberty United, Thum intends to reduce gun violence the only way he knows how. Since average Americans aren’t capable of writing new legislation or lobbying elected officials, they often feel impotent in the face of causes that matter to them. Liberty United’s recycled gun jewelry not only provides an outlet and resource for social action, but it sets an example for other citizens: do what you know best to stand up for issues that matter most
The project’s participants are equally excited. Saving lives isn’t something the fashion industry usually allows them to do. The community’s enthusiasm has allowed Thum to recruit the talents of some of the industry’s most popular designers. First up, Giles & Brother, a design team of two (Philip and Courtney Crangi), who are used to working closely with metals and natural-looking materials.
The future of jewelry and fashion
Maybe it’s a sign of the times, but with the rise of Internet shopping, awareness campaigns like the ones against hunting animals for fur, securing diamonds from countries where the sales go to profit civil war and social unrest, and especially ones that use recycled and up-cycled materials as a way to reduce waste are steadily becoming mainstream.
Reaching people is what the Internet does best, and it’s what Peter Thum hopes Liberty United will do.
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