October 11, 2019
Italian fashion label Gucci’s Chime for Change initiative is looking to ignite a conversation around the issue of child marriage in a campaign that asks consumers to share their dreams.
Timed to coincide with International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11, #LetGirlsDream centers on a short film about a young teen who wants to be a pilot. Spreading the word and turning it into a two-way conversation, Chime for Change is also collecting the aspirations and ambitions of consumers in support of ending the practice of marrying off minors.
"In the Western world, we don’t talk about child marriage much," said Lauren Bates, marketing manager and lead storyteller at Blue Moon Digital, Denver, CO. "And while it happens in the States and in Europe, it is more pervasive and normative in places like India, the Middle East and Africa. It is more prevalent in areas where girls don’t have access to education, or where their lives or the lives of their families are threatened by their efforts to seek education.
"Child marriage robs young girls of their dreams and aspirations and is a conversation well worth having," she said.
"With the impact of globalization, many textile industries have shifted to underdeveloped or developing countries in the name of cheap labor and the bottom line," she said. "Sadly, many of these countries still embrace the concept and practice of child marriage.
"While Gucci themselves may or may not manufacture their garments in these regions, many brands do. I think that Gucci getting involved is taking ownership of that fact. It's now a part of the dynamics in many of those countries.
"The fashion industry, while flawed, can also impact change in a good way. And it starts with brands taking a stand."
Ms. Bates is not affiliated with Gucci, but agreed to comment as an industry expert. Gucci was reached for comment.
Combatting child marriage
Chime for Change’s campaign is in support of “Sitara,” an animated short by Academy Award- and Emmy-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy.
Produced by Vice Studios, Sitara is set in 1970s Pakistan, drawing attention to the fact that what may seem to be an outdated practice is still happening decades later. About 12 million girls around the world are married off each year.
Brides who are under 18 when they marry are more likely to suffer domestic abuse, early or forced pregnancy and other health issues.
Sitara’s protagonist Pari is a 14-year-old who dreams of flying airplanes. Told from the perspective of her 6-year-old sister, it shows Pari launching paper planes and reading a book about Amelia Earhart.
These sky-high goals are crushed when Pari is forced to marry.
Pari’s own mother was a child bride. Her husband brings home a wedding shoe for his daughter, creating tension between the two parents.
The resolution of the film shows the rest of the family leaving the father at the wedding hall, forcing him to come to terms with what he has chosen to do.
Trailer for "Sitara"
“For me, ‘Sitara’ is more than a film, it is a movement that we want to start across the world, that encourages parents to invest in their girls’ dreams, freeing their daughters from the burdens of early marriage,” Ms. Obaid-Chinoy said in a statement.
Working with Ms. Obaid-Chinoy, Gucci is supporting Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage, a partnership between 1,300 civil society organizations seeking to end child marriage, and Equality Now.
As part of its partnership on the film, Gucci has created a campaign Web site. Here, consumers can share their own dreams, supporting the idea that all girls deserve the right to dream.
Designed as a field of stars, the site lets consumers click to read what others have written, building an international community around the issue.
Along with consumers, Gucci also asked celebrities and members of the fashion community to share their dreams. Included among the stars are Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri, the brand’s creative director Alessandro Michele, actors Elle Fanning and Saoirse Ronan and singer-actress Lou Doillon.
Lou Doillon's dream. Image courtesy of Gucci
Also on the Web site, teachers can request to have a local screening of Sitara and receive discussion materials surrounding the film.
As part of the campaign and to celebrate International Day of the Girl, Gucci has released a new podcast episode that features youth activists in conversation with Teen Vogue editor in chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner.
Chime for Change is also discussing child marriage in an article within the second issue of its zine. The multilingual publication is readable online, with physical copies available at Gucci Garden in Florence and the brand’s bookstore at Gucci Wooster in SoHo, as well as select bookstores.
Founded in 2013, Chime for Change is Gucci's global campaign centered on gender equality. To-date the initiative has supported upwards of 430 projects.
Earlier this year, Gucci continued its campaign for change, fine-tuning its sights on gender equality with initiatives spanning various mediums, generations and communities.
Gucci's recent efforts surrounding its Chime for Change initiative will be spreading messages through its famous ArtWalls and a film that debuted at the Sundance Festival. The brand's Chime for Change is multi-tiered, hoping its effect will be far-reaching (see story).
Chime for Change has also used storytelling to explore other topics related to gender.
In a climate where sexual misconduct dominates the headlines, Artsy and Gucci partnered to put a spotlight on gender equality in the art world and artists of inspiration.
Through a series of three films, the two brands hoped to show the trials, tribulations and moments of importance in the past, present and future of gender equality in the art world. Important artists discuss these issues and the differences between men and women in the art industry (see story).
"I believe that everything that individuals and brands do to embrace change and foster awareness of issues moves the needle," Ms. Bates said. "I believe that we as a collective need to feel empowered in that way and keep bringing important issues to light and pressure brands to do the same. Brands have a bigger speaking platform, a bigger megaphone and they can – and should – amplify social issues, especially ones that either directly or indirectly affect their industry.
"Furthermore, brands have money to support lobbyists, to change legislation," she said. "Brands have vast followings that span cultures and continents. Brands have the ability to unite through something that is bigger than themselves. And that shouldn’t be a nice to have.
"Social responsibility is becoming a requirement among millennials and young consumers. I don’t think that brands need to lead the charge for change, but it definitely is a bonus to have them as an ally on the right side of change."