When it comes to streetwear, what’s real? A Louis Vuitton bag, or a Chinatown knockoff? €245 for Vetements, or $6.50 for the authentic DHL look? Designer and Kanye West collaborator Heron Preston, known for bootlegs, is “obsessed” with the real, and it doesn’t get more real than his latest project: UNIFORM, a collaboration with the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY), which will debut at the upcoming New York Fashion Week. The Kanye West collaborator has been known to look to working-class uniforms as a source of inspiration, but now, he’s repurposing actual uniforms once worn by sanitation workers on the job. DSNY uniforms will be up-cycled with silk-screen designs, and emblazoned with patches.
“I do really love the sanitation uniforms. This is what I consider streetwear,” Preston tells The Creators Project. “I want nothing more than to see a sanitation worker on the street in six months wearing something from this UNIFORM collaboration.”
While the collection is clearly more than just influenced by sanitation uniforms, it’s not yet a new frontier for public worker’s uniforms, and is more likely to be seen on celebrities or street style icons. Although, in the long term, there may be a fashionable future in store for DSNY employees.
“I understood how new this idea already was for [the DSNY] so I didn't want to add on additional requests like 'hey I want to also get your 8,000 sanitation workers wearing this as well,'" Preston explains. “BUT, that’s not to say that I don't have that idea on deck for the future. It's a process. I want to get there for sure. In fact, that was my very first dream. Sanitation workers on the streets of NYC wearing designer uniforms. It will happen!!!”
UNIFORM will be shown in an intimate presentation on September 7, the same day as the Yeezy Season 4 show, and the first day of New York Fashion Week. It will take place at the DSNY’s Spring Street Salt Shed, an award-winning building that looks like a giant concrete cluster of crystals, and contains 5,000 tons of salt. Just 25 tickets are available for the presentation, and at $2,030 each, there’s sure to be an elite group in attendance. But proceeds will benefit a foundation for sanitation workers and a museum of sanitation equipment.
While attendees will be able to shop the collection at the presentation, it will also serve a greater purpose than just retail: promoting the DSNY’s 0x30 Campaign, an initiative to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills to zero by the year 2030.
Campaigning for zero waste isn’t just a trend for Preston—he plans to collaborate with DSNY, and bring even more designers and creative minds to the mix, in the future. The designer tells us he’s thinking about making more UNIFORM pieces, and auctioning them off to benefit the DSNY; making short films of their facilities, and to “just continue being creative with them. There’s so many stories to tell.”
The UNIFORM collection debuts on September 7. Spread the word about Heron Preston’s collab with the DSNY and 0X30 Campaign with #HPC0X30. Find out more about the designer and artist on his website.