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Nice pants

January 8, 2010

Went down to the beach for a swim this evening, and while we were waiting for our take-away pizza I spotted a small poster in the window next door to the pizza shop. Pants to Poverty, it said, showing a spunky indian farmer sporting a pair of underwear and standing in front of his beautifully painted cow. Nothing else.

Came home and googled him and realized that I’m so out of the loop – in the UK they’ve been wearing them since 2007 apparently.

They are an award-winning organic Fair trade underwear brand aiming to speak to mainstream audiences about the terrible impact of the pesticides that are used to produce the clothes that we wear, and how they in effect support a system that, according to the World Health Organization, lets over 20,000 farmers die and millions more suffer chronic diseases each year from pesticide poisoning. Inspired by Nelson Mandela’s words when he came to London –

“Today hundreds of millions of people lie trapped and enslaved in the prison of poverty… it’s time to set them free. Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom”

they started making ethical underwear. (What else?)

Pants to Poverty is a young company and market themselves accordingly, with flashmobs (rendering them a Guinness World record – most people ever gathered in their underwear) and the creation of a mythical creature – the  Panteater – who eats ‘bad pants’ i.e unethical underwear.  Not surprisingly it is accompanied by a viral campaign bringing together farmers, designers and consumers and supported by digital activity on social networking sites (for example you are invited to submit your own drawings or footage of  genuine Panteater sightings to win prizes) .

And that’s what I find particularly  interesting about Pants to Poverty – their aim is to address mainstream consumers. Not only does it make good business sense, but it’s something i think is often a challenge for ‘ethical’ fashion; people’s perception that organic or Fair Trade garments are crude/made of hemp/for hippies only.

What do you think?

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