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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It Takes a Tote.

We love the forthrightness of whateverittakes. This is a charity with moxy written all over its URL. As the online face of not-for-profit 21st Century Leaders, the goal of whateverittakes is to raise $3 million over 3 years to fund charitable projects in the developing world. Most of those projects involve helping impoverished groups in developing nations reach global marketplaces to sustain their communities.

We like this "teaching to fish" approach and the dignity it affords. 21CL raises their operating budget by creating and selling "merchandise with a meaning," meaning, in the case of Lori's, a collection of fresh canvas totes designed and signed by cultural limelighters.

Bags of Personality: Gwen Stefani's L.A.M.B.-like tote (left) and Kayne West's improv batik.

The bags are appealing on a number of levels. On one hand, fill your celebrity-guest-designer-fashion-bag wardrobe requirement for a sliver of the usual cost. And when we're talking about prolific and high-profile producers like Kayne West, Snoop Dogg, Lucy Liu, Gwen Stefani and Stella McCartney, that's significant. At $34.00 they are slightly more affordable than, say, McCartney's sueded appaloosa handbag for $1,295.00 or iTuning all of Kanye West's albums or Stefani's L.A.M.B. collection (though the spontaneity of her scribbled designs reflects that Harajuku élan.)

Global Fashion: Stella McCartney's totes reflect the spritely optimism of her Spring 2009 line.

We're suckers for the sense of hand in these bags. Sure, it's a trick we've been familiar since those melamine plates we made in 3rd grade, but it is potent for the same reason – that sense of personal touch preserved in an otherwise generic product. Personality is important; these bags portray a real sense of energy and personal investment about something that's meaningful to us: the ability for creativity to benefit others. Because proceeds from every bag fund 21st Century Leaders, buying these bags isn't just consuming, it's also participating.

Besides the requisite paeans to green and earth-friendliness, each medium-weight cotton canvas bag has self-lined handles and a hidden zip side pocket. Sides are gusseted to hold as much organic, grass-fed, free-range, no-trans-fat goodness as you can stuff in there at the grocery. (And if you, like us, sometimes yearn for something a little less earnestly responsible, perhaps this is insouciant enough.)

Buying this bag won't save the world, but it will save you some money, send said same to a cause we (and our pop culture idols) believe in, and make you look good doing it.

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