Char­i­ta­ble Forces

Part­ners in a phil­an­thropic push to end hunger, de­signer Michael Kors and ac­tress Kate Hud­son talk to Jus­tine Lee about their mo­ti­va­tion and en­gag­ing the next gen­er­a­tion

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life Philanthropy -

ne of the gongs handed out in New York late last year at the 10th an­nual Golden Heart Awards, a glit­ter­ing, celebri­tys­trewn fundrais­ing gala pre­sented by lo­cal char­ity God’s Love We De­liver, was the Michael Kors Award for Out­stand­ing Com­mu­nity Ser­vice. Given that Kors runs a US$1 bil­lion global busi­ness with more than 550 stores, it’s hard to imag­ine the de­signer has time for him­self, let alone the phil­an­thropic work that would jus­tify nam­ing an award af­ter him.

But Kors has a long record of giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity. God’s Love We De­liver re­cently named its new Soho head­quar­ters af­ter him in recog­ni­tion of the US$15 mil­lion his com­pany has raised for the char­ity. And last year he was named a United Na­tions World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) am­bas­sador in recog­ni­tion of Watch Hunger Stop, a project he started in 2013 to raise aware­ness and cash for the WFP’S School Meals Pro­gramme. Kors’ project—funded through a range of ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing lim­ited edition watches and ac­tiv­ity track­ers, and var­i­ous in-store and so­cial me­dia pro­grammes—has de­liv­ered more than 13 mil­lion meals since its in­cep­tion. For the se­cond year run­ning, Kors has en­listed ac­tress Kate Hud­son as the face of Watch Hunger Stop.

What con­vinced you to be­come part of this project?

It re­ally was a no-brainer. I learned about the ef­forts of the WFP a cou­ple of years ago and it wasn’t long af­ter that that Michael asked if I wanted to be part of his Watch Hunger Stop pro­gramme.

Kate and I have been friends for many years. We’re a great team, and she’s got great en­ergy and op­ti­mism and knows how to rally the troops.

Why watches and ac­tiv­ity track­ers? I asked my­self the big ques­tions. How do I get every­one in­volved? What’s one way I can get peo­ple from around the world, from all dif­fer­ent back­grounds, en­gaged? A lot of peo­ple feel they don’t have any­thing to give, but I wanted peo­ple to see they could do good on a per­sonal level. As a de­signer, I nat­u­rally grav­i­tated to prod­ucts and thought about some­thing peo­ple use daily or would no­tice if worn by some­one else, which is where I got the idea to do a spe­cial time­piece—some­thing that’s at­trac­tive and func­tional, that gets the con­ver­sa­tion go­ing.

Fit­ness and a healthy life­style are very im­por­tant to me, and knowl­edge is power, so the ac­tiv­ity tracker is a great way to mon­i­tor re­sults.

How do you mea­sure the progress of Watch Hunger Stop?

When I first started, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be amaz­ing to hit 10 mil­lion meals?’ We’ve hit 13 mil­lion and we’re go­ing to hit 15 mil­lion meals for chil­dren around the world very soon. A lit­tle while ago, statis­tics showed one in seven peo­ple was hun­gry, and now it’s one in nine, so we’re see­ing re­sults. Zero hunger is pos­si­ble.

Hunger is a prob­lem that’s easy to un­der­stand and very tan­gi­ble. So to say you will donate a meal, you can im­me­di­ately con­cep­tu­alise how pow­er­ful that can be. It’s great to be a part of some­thing that’s im­pact­ful where we can see con­crete changes head­ing down the road to end­ing hunger.

When did you re­alise the im­por­tance of giv­ing back?

I knew what I wanted to do in my early 20s and have had the won­der­ful op­por­tu­nity to do what I love in my ca­reer since the begin­ning. I vol­un­teered reg­u­larly on a lo­cal scale at God’s Love We De­liver from the 1980s, and as I be­gan to travel the world as a de­signer, it be­came ap­par­ent to me that fash­ion, like char­ity, has no bor­ders. Ev­ery­thing can be done in a global way.

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