A colorful 28-foot statue of a woman in a dress composed of more than 1,500 pounds of recycled clothing will be constructed overnight on Monday at the Oculus at Westfield World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. The structure, the tallest ever built within the major New York City traffic hub, will remain through Wednesday as part of a collaboration between Unilever Deodorants and Savers, a global network of more than 330 thrift shops.
In advance of New York Fashion Week, the Stain-Less, Waste-Less installation, an artistic and visual representation of clothing waste, is designed to drive awareness of the size of the problem. “We’re going for impact and what better way to bring the issue to life than a 28-foot dress?” said Dawn Hedgepeth, senior director, U.S. deodorants and men’s grooming for Unilever.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 10.5 million tons of clothes are discarded each year, in large part due to preventable stains. “Three quarters of people are not donating clothes because they are torn or stained,” said Hedgepeth. Compounding that, 300 million pieces of clothing are tossed out by Millennials over a lifetime because of white marks or yellow stains, according to research conducted by Kelton Global for Degree Deodorant. “We know that Millennials, as a group, are interested in causes and learning about ways they can improve the environment,” added Hedgepeth. Working in tandem, Unilever Deodorants and Savers created the display to encourage recycling clothes through options such as Savers, as well as preventing stains with Unilever’s Anti-Marks technology.
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Launched in January 2017 across Degree Men, Degree Women, Dove, Dove Men+Care and AXE, Anti-Marks addresses what was ranked as the number-one unmet need in the deodorant market — white marks and yellow underarm stains on garments.
“We can provide a very easy solution with anti-stain technology. We can tell consumers this is something you can address through deodorant choices. And it is a great time to talk about clothing with Fashion Week kicking in,” added Hedgepeth. The sky-high installation is interpreted by Electric Coffin, a design studio that has worked in tandem with Savers before as part of its I Give a Shirt initiative to encourage people to protect and recycle clothing. Stain-Less, Waste-Less is the latest iteration of the campaign.
“Five years ago, no one was paying attention [to textile waste], but over the past few years consumers and the industry have started to understand it is a growing issue,” said Tony Shumpert, vice president, recycling and reuse at Savers. “The average person creates 80 pounds of waste per year and anything that can be done to extend the life of clothing takes pressure off what is going into our waste stream and helps mitigate the impact on the planet.”
Shumpert acknowledged that brands are starting to create products, such as Unilever Deodorants’ Anti-Marks technology, that help eliminate the issue of tossing, rather than donating, clothing because of damage.
During the time the hard-to-miss giant (which also spans 30 feet in width) is on display, Unilever will sample its antiperspirants that are designed to protect clothes from marks and stains. There will be clothing collection bins on-site to accumulate unwanted clothing that may otherwise have gotten tossed. Additionally, Unilever Deodorants will offer coupons in Savers stores nationwide for its Anti-Marks Deodorants. Touch screens for consumers to learn more about Unilever Deodorants, the Stain-Less, Waste-Less campaign and information on existing clothing collection sites through the city will be positioned near the statue.
Hedgepeth said the anti-stains technology has been a growth area for the company and will be extended with new fragrances in 2018. Unilever recently extended its deodorant business into the natural sector with the purchased of Schmidt’s Naturals.