Money Where Your Mouse Is: Maison Martin Margiela

Martin Margiela originally launched his AIDS T-shirt back in 1994, when very little was known about the HIV virus and hysteria ran rampant. That was the year Rudolf Nureyev and Arthur Ashe succumbed to the disease, shockingly, and when Benetton and ACT UP Paris placed a giant condom over the Concorde obelisk in an awareness-raising stunt that reverberated around the world. Echoing the uncertainty of the time, the humble words around the tee’s collar read: “There is more action to be done to fight AIDS than to wear this T-shirt but it’s a good start.”

A lot has changed in the last 17 years, but of course the fight isn’t over. And so, since the designer’s departure from the label, Maison Martin Margiela has kept the tradition alive. Except now the text is written in a different language each year (in addition to English), reflecting the global reach of the virus. This year it’s in French, following last year’s Japanese version. As usual, a percentage of sales will be donated to AIDES, a French organization dedicated to fighting HIV/AIDS and caring for those who are infected.

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