In recent years, the most talked about fashion phenomenon during the holiday season has been the “ugly Christmas sweater” trend. Now the seasonal garment has been turned into something more than a mere fashion statement.
As an attempt to keep important matters in the public eye, Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper in the Nordics, has launched a series of ugly Christmas sweaters depicting the year’s ugliest news topics.
Instead of garish designs, the ugliness in the #uglytruthsweaters is more due to the subject matters presented. The series comprises of five shirts and depicts some of the past year’s ugliest news topics: climate change, plastic in our oceans, war, sexual harassment and technological manipulation. Introduced under the tagline “The truth may be ugly, but it never goes out of style”, the collection reminds people that there is no matter that journalism should turn a blind eye to.
“Truth is the cornerstone of journalism, no matter how ugly it is. We can't shy away from topics that are difficult, in your face or hard to swallow. That's why this Christmas we are wearing them on our sleeve, literally. It is our responsibility to bring these matters into the public consciousness and keep them there as long as they remain unsolved”, says Kaius Niemi, the paper’s Senior Editor-in-Chief.
The shirts will accompany a set of articles published in Helsingin Sanomat that take a look at each subject in detail. They will also be sent to a number of people who have contributed to resolving each matter.
The highly limited collection of 100% woollen shirts have been produced locally in Finland, in the small town of Lieto.
The ugly truth sweaters are not the first time Helsingin Sanomat has taken a stand for important matters. Last summer, in an act to defend freedom of the press, the paper welcomed presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to the Land of Free Press
ahead of their Helsinki Summit. A series of outdoor ads spread out on the presidents’ route displayed the paper’s past headlines regarding both leaders and their relationship with the media. The stunt sparked a debate on the state of press freedom that continues still today.
As with the Land of Free Press -campaign, Helsingin Sanomat cooperated with TBWA\HELSINKI who are also responsible for the sweater designs. The agency’s chief creative officer Jyrki Poutanen sees the campaign as a natural continuation to the summer campaign: “Helsingin Sanomat has an established strategy in acknowledging its role and relevance in society with these kind of statements. It is a counterpower to indifference, be it towards press freedom, climate change or war.”