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Shopping for the cure 4: Luxury slactivism by Ralph Lauren

Shopping for the cure 4: Luxury slactivism by Ralph Lauren

When you buy products that tout their support for the breast cancer cause, put it through this three-step test:

1) How much is going to the cause?
2) Which cause is it going to?
3) Is the product or brand appropriate (ie, is it carcinogenic or unethical)?

Now look at this throw. This $495 cashmere throw. From Ralph Lauren.


“Crafted from sumptuous, densely woven felted cashmere for a soft hand, our lush Pink Pony throw blanket is a symbol of our commitment to the fight against cancer. Finished with fringed edges. 54” x 72”. 100% cashmere. Dry clean. Imported.

A percentage of sales from all Pink Pony products supports programs for screening, early diagnosis, treatment and research, and brings patient navigation to medically underserved communities.

Exclusively at and Ralph Lauren stores.

Personalize this item with our monogramming service, offering your choice of custom-embroidered initials or name in a selection of distinctive fonts.”

According to the Fab Over Forty blog, that amount is 10%. And it goes to RL’s own foundation. Which answers question #1 (and part of #2).

The Pink Pony Fund for Cancer Care and Prevention has this message about where the money goes after that:

“Pink Pony is Ralph Lauren’s worldwide initiative in the fight against cancer. In the United States, Pink Pony Fund beneficiaries include the Ralph Lauren Center for Cancer Care and Prevention, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Women’s Cancer Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai, and the Nina Hyde Center.

Internationally, Pink Pony has supported Fondazione Umberto Veronesi in Italy, Breast Cancer in the UK, Association pour la Vie Espoire centre le Cancer (A.V.E.C.) and the American Hospital of Paris in France, National Breast Cancer Centre of Australia, New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation, FundAyuda in Panama, Fundacion Arturo Lopez Perez in Chile, FUCA-Foundacion Cancer in Argentia, the Hong Kong Cancer Fund, Susan G. Komen of Germany, the Japan Cancer Society and the Ligue Genovoise contre le cancer in Geneva.”

That’s a lot of recipients to share your $49.50 (or less if it’s from the profit margin only—the blog says “10% of proceeds”) But that fully answers question #2.

And #3? It’s just a luxury good. No foul there. But if you want an expensive, monogrammed, designer cashmere throw and can afford it, just buy one. If you want to fight cancer, however, there are much more direct ways to do it that amount to more than a miniscule pink marketing levy.


Ralph Lauren
Fab Over Forty

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more