A charming (if mildly disjointed) new commercial from a Los Angeles-based ethical clothing company takes an old adage—”the medium is the message”—to a new level.
The brand, Everybody.World, has a staple product called the “Trash Tee,” a 100 percent recycled cotton T-shirt, made from meticulously processed waste fibers.
After meeting the company’s co-founders—Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo, both alumni of American Apparel—director Anton du Preez decided to make an ad that was also 100 percent recycled.
They shot new footage on vintage Kodak film, so it would match with 14-year-old stock footage, deftly cut together by Winnie Cheung, an editor at production company Picture Farm. And for the voiceover, they spliced together snippets of PSAs from the 1950s.
“The Earth’s resources are precious, and fashion can be dirty” says the chopped up narration, with a range of different voices picking up as little as a word at a time in what might be best described as a mad robot audio collage. “We think about our planet constantly, and as manufacturers, we do our best to do the right thing.”
Meanwhile, an arty montage flashes across the screen, showing sunny blue skies and manufacturing lines, smiling workers, fabrics floating in the breeze, and cityscapes of L.A.
“So, we invented a new fabric for our T-shirts that’s made from 100 percent recycled cotton, which means that we can use the waste that other companies disregard,” it continues. “We can use what others find useless to create something useful for us and less stressful for the environment. Because if we don’t care enough to change the way it’s done, who will?
Overall, it’s a rewarding gimmick—and one that serves to reinforce a worthwhile message. Mass manufacturing clothing is generally terrible for the environment—unless pains are taken to make it not so—but it’s a pollution stream that’s often overlooked. (H&M addressed the issue with its “Recycle Your Clothes” campaign featuring Iggy Pop, and photographer Benjamin Von Wong, one of Adweek’s Creative 100, has also recently sought to call attention to the issue by turning thousands of pounds of new clothing abandoned at a factory years ago into striking artworks).
Explaining the genesis of the ad, du Preez says “I went to speak to [Alonzo and Crespo] about the clothing production process and was amazed at how much cotton waste there is in yarn-making. After learning about this, I wanted to be involved and help create awareness around it. We approached the creative directors behind the Adidas Originals ‘Original is Never Finished’ campaigns to create a ‘completely recycled’ concept for the campaign.”
And it just might be the only time a creative openly admits to an idea being a total rehash.
Production Company: Mixed Business, LLC
Editorial: Picture Farm
Color: The Mill, NYC
Film Processing: Fotokem
Creative Directors: Wesley Phelan, Matthew Edwards
Director: Anton du Preez
Director of Photography: Wes Cardino
Assistant Camera: Barry Goldman
Photographer: Sylve Colless
Editor: Winnie Cheung
Assistant Editor: Regina Spurlock
Post Producer: Leslie Yoon
Color Producer: Evan Bauer
Colorist: Mikey Rossiter
Sound Mix and Design: Richard Vossgatter
Fotokem Sales: Mary Chamberlain, Perry Suppa