Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on January 4, 2008
We all know that Christmas is a time to reflect on others less fortunate than ourselves. But should that reflection stop now that we’ve rung in the new year? Ingenious Toronto ad firm TAXI doesn’t think so; they’re ensuring that Canada’s 3,000 homeless will receive more than just kind thoughts this winter. The 15 Below Project — so-called because cities issue a Cold Weather Alert when the temperature drops to negative 15 degrees Celsius — is also the number of years TAXI has been in business. “We’ve survived 15 years, now we’re going to help others survive the night,” says executive creative director Steve Mykolyn, who enlisted the help of designer Lida Baday to create the 15 Below Jacket.
The anorak style jacket is lined with pockets that can be stuffed with newspaper to provide insulation from the cold. It’s being described as a low-cost lifeline for the nation’s homeless. The jacket is waterproof, windproof, breathable and durable. The lining consists of multiple pockets – two in the hood, four in the chest, one the back and one in each sleeve. Scrunched up newspaper provides the adjustable temperature control.
But jacket works all year round: with the stuffing removed, it acts as raincoat; and when not worn, it can be used as a backpack or folded up to make a pillow.
So, how effective is it? To simulate a winter night outside for a homeless person, TAXI decided to spend time inside an industrial meat locker. Armed only with a prototype jacket and yesterday’s news, Mykolyn took a leap of faith. Eight hours later he emerged, safe and warm.
Part philanthropy, part promotion, the 15 Below Jacket will certainly help Canada’s homeless feel a little more comfortable this winter.
Now if we can just do something about getting the homeless off the street…