Bestseller Funnels Profits into Design-Minded Development Projects

bestseller.jpgWhile some Danish companies are using shirked responsibility as a marketing tool, others are focused on giving back on a global scale. Family-owned clothing company Bestseller (that’s their logo, at right), founded in Ringkobing (the best name for a town we’ve heard in years) in 1975, has devoted millions of kroner in profits to charitable programs, from developing “model villages” in remote mountain regions of China and aiding victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami to helping to build a design school in Kutch, a desert town in India that is home to 50,000 artisans.

Last week, WWD named Bestseller among its five Community Service Award winners (the other winners: Liz Claiborne, MAC, Dress Barn, and J.C. Penney), highlighting the company’s dedication to development projects in India, China, and Africa. “Funds come strictly from corporate profits–no donations and no fund-raisers that can cost more than they bring in–with more than $2 million distributed in 2007 and another $14 million pledged this year,” noted WWD. “Many of the programs help artisans preserve their crafts, such as block printing, weaving, and embroidery, and reach beyond their local markets.” Plans are now in the works to follow up the Kutch design school, which is run by nonprofit organization Kala Raksha, with a similar design school in Tibet.

Meanwhile, Bestseller will be outfitting the Danish Olympic Team at this year’s Summer Games in Beijing. No word on whether they’ll be wearing items from the company’s recently launched “JJ Eco” line of organic, environmentally-friendly apparel. The clothing is made from cotton that has the Max Havelaar label, a cerification that the farmers receive a minimum price and a Fairtrade bonus for their cotton.