On June 1st of this year, Levi Strauss & Co. issued a design challenge. It wasn’t a fashion thing; no one was being asked to design a prom dress made entirely from jeans (and really, thank god for that). It was an eco thing.
The premise was this: Levis had determined (by hiring a third-party life cycle assessment firm) that almost 60% of the climate impact of Levis jeans comes during the consumer phase, and nearly 80% of that is from using a clothes dryer. In order to reduce its carbon footprint and build sustainability into the Levis product, the company issued the Care to Air Design Challenge, a challenge intended to find “the world’s most innovative, covetable, and sustainable air-drying solution for clothing.” Winners to divvy up $10,000 in prizes.
I bring this to you here on SG for one reason: there is absolutely no way on earth I believe that anyone would have invented the winning design if not for the extremely specific constraints Levis placed on the entrants: it should be innovative, it should be eco-friendly, it should be covetable, it should be beautiful.
I mean yeah: it’s not like we don’t all know how to air-dry our jeans. For $1.50 an a trip to the local hardware store, you can get yourself a piece of clothesline, right? It’s not like this challenge was about inventing a previously nonexistent solution. It was about finding a way to do it that just might be cool enough to convince people to use it. And sometimes, that’s all our most creative ideas are.
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here, people. Just the clothesline.
It should be noted that many far more, well, let’s just call them technological designs were entered, and some of them got some recognition and prize money. But the top two prizes both went to designs that were simple, beautiful, and elegant.