Designer and artist Heron Preston announces a new fashion collaboration with the DSNY’s Foundation for New York’s Strongest: “UNIFORM”, a collection series that is activated and environmentally conscious, the first of its kind. Preston debuted a line of DSNY merchandise and workwear essentials adapted from up-cycled clothing and archived DSNY uniforms, imbuing the DSNY logo with a new power and context for the fashion-conscious public.
The first collection will raise awareness for 0X30, the Department of Sanitation’s Zero Waste initiative to contribute zero waste to landfills by the year 2030. Part of the proceeds from the “UNIFORM” collection will go to the Foundation for New York’s Strongest, a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service of sanitation workers in New York City, which is rarely spotlit.
“UNIFORM honors the men and women who proudly protect New Yorkers’ health and safety,” said Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “Too often, our heroes are unsung – and the Foundation’s partnership with Heron is a powerful celebration of our dedicated Sanitation Workers who serve New York City every day.”
Preston’s idea to collaborate with the DSNY and the Foundation for New York’s Strongest came to him while swimming in Ibiza: a stray plastic bag grazed his arm, sparking a realization. After feeling disenchanted with street wear and its vacant messaging, the idea of designing clothing related to a service-oriented workforce appealed to Preston. A brush with garbage was exactly the breakthrough he needed. He returned to New York and attended a talk by DSNY anthropologist-in-residence Dr. Robin Nagle, who described the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, the artist-in-residence with the DSNY since 1977. Inspired by her concepts and activism, Preston approach the department about a creative partnership. As Preston learned about the Department of Sanitation’s work and its necessary role in the preservation and function of the city, he knew there was an opportunity to use the department’s dynamic Iconography archives in a way that was both aesthetically interesting and substantive.
Naturally, zero waste was a priority, so Preston developed the collection with a selection of donated and up-cycled clothing, then integrated specific screen prints and embroidery for the design. An official label for this unique project was created and sewn into every garment. Atypical collaborations are Preston’s hallmark, but UNIFORM’s ideology redefines fashion, and brings awareness to the service of the DSNY, without which New York City street culture could not exist.