Translated by
Nicola Mira
Sep 8, 2016
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Fashion Week: a collection pays tribute to New York's garbage men

Translated by
Nicola Mira
Sep 8, 2016

A trendy young designer, Heron Preston, 33, has presented on Wednesday a tee-shirt collection made from recycled New York street-sweepers' uniforms, as a tribute to these unsung workers.

Heron Preston, wearing orange, with one of the tee-shirts - DSNY

The unlikely encounter between Heron Preston, who collaborated with Kanye West on the Yeezy collection, and the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY), has its roots in the plastic bag.

One day the young man came across a floating plastic bag as he was swimming in the ocean. It was a wake-up call for Preston, who immediately decided to get involved in environmental preservation.

"I was also working on a uniform design project. That's where the two ideas merged," he told the AFP agency.

Preston contacted the New York Department of Sanitation and met Mierle Ukeles, the DSNY's artist in residence.

"I knew they would understand me, since they understand her," said Preston.

The idea of a collaboration appealed to the DSNY, which describes itself as the world's largest municipal sanitation department, collecting over 12,000 tons of garbage daily.

On Wednesday, in parallel with the New York Fashion Week, Heron Preston presented a series of tee-shirts made from recycled clothing, notably from dustmen's uniforms.

Unfortunately, the collection's outfits, even though they feature the sanitation department's logos and colours, cannot be worn by DSNY personnel going about their daily work.

"I hope that one day I'll be able to design the official uniforms,"  said Preston, who has worked at Nike and co-created streetwear brand Been Thrill. "From the outset, my dream was to see dustmen working on the streets wearing a designer uniform."

Yet, even sticking to tee-shirts, caps and holdalls made from old hi-viz safety vests, Heron Preston made  everyone happy at New York's Department of Sanitation.

"I'd have never thought that someone would take an interest in us," stated a DSNY officer, who wished to remain anonymous.

The DSNY-emblazoned tee-shirts, which caused swarms of fashionistas to stampede on Wednesday, may be the epitome of radical chic, but Heron Preston's creation is no less significant for this.

"This really means a lot for us," said the DSNY officer, since "usually, this is something for the police or the fire department."

"Sometimes, they think of themselves as invisible," added Heron Preston.

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