Carlos Camacho, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson Amsterdam revealed the details of the project that revived Cleopatra and dressed her in a pair of contemporary jeans, to show how tech can change fashion, writes LBB’s Zoe Antonov
Sustainability talk has been the hot topic of every industry in recent years and is only here to accelerate sustainable practices and prove to brands that action is needed urgently. Customers are increasingly becoming more aware through social media connectivity, and are building a never-before-seen morale when it comes to choosing the brands and products they align themselves with. Fast fashion brands, almost like single-use plastics, seem to be one of the first things that the public has realised needs to immediately go at the face of a sustainable lifestyle and production chain.
Every day more of us are tapping into the idea of thrifting, sustainable materials, and overall trying not to contribute to fast fashion, as one of the biggest polluters and exploiters on Earth. In line with these newly emerged and speed-gaining trends in audiences, Wunderman Thompson has given the industry a challenge: “Let’s make fashion’s future waste-free.”
Calling for a zero-waste future, they have launched ‘Cleopatra’s Jeans’, tailored especially for the Egyptian Queen born in 69 BC, as a symbol of sustainability rising on the horizon of the fashion industry. The jeans were revealed at the Fashion of Good Museum, dedicated to sustainable fashion in Amsterdam. During the launch, denim expert Mariette Hoitink of the House of Denim Foundation discussed the huge textile waste in the fashion industry as well as its possible solutions, with fashion industry leaders.
The point of Cleopatra’s jeans, however, is not just to flex some tech muscles - it’s to give a tangible example of how tech innovation can solve sizing issues behind clothing wastage. Tailored through cutting-edge 3D scanning technology, as well as through thorough historical and genetic research, the pair of jeans isn’t as simple as it seems. It proves to the industry that used to their full potential, data research and utilisation of tech innovations can solve what stays at the root of many issues with customers throwing away newly purchased clothing.
Carlos Camacho, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson Amsterdam spoke to LBB’s Zoe Antonov about the creation of this exciting project, why Cleopatra was the perfect face for it and the TG3D tech behind it.
LBB> What was the brief for this campaign, and what were the initial conversations surrounding it?
Carlos> It was simple: to promote a very innovative 3D body scanning technology from a Taiwanese studio. It was very cool to work with them because they are a very collaborative, bold, and supportive client. They wanted to show the world what their tech could do and how it could help make the fashion industry more sustainable.
To promote this technology, we needed a powerful idea, a story that would grab everyone's attention – an impossible garment for an iconic figure, one that died thousands of years ago.
LBB> What were the first steps that the team took to get to the final idea - for example, what research was done and what were the findings?
Carlos> The first step was to take a deep dive into how TG3D's technology worked and what was in the realms of possibility for our campaign.
Secondly, we needed to define an iconic figure to be our campaign model. In the beginning, we wanted to make jeans for Jesus because it was easier to find information about his physical attributes. But then, the more we talked about it, the more we felt we should have a choice that could reach different cultures. After considering an array of historical names, we landed on Cleopatra.
The next challenge was to tackle the covid-19 lockdown and restrictions that held us back from travelling and producing this project. But that’s a different story!
LBB> Why did you choose Cleopatra as the leading figure for this campaign?
Carlos> We decided that Cleopatra would be perfect for many reasons, such as; being a powerful queen, brave and influential woman in a man ruling age. Also, she was - and still is - an icon for fashion and beauty. The problem was that there was not much data available, her tomb has never been found, so apart from paintings, sculptures, and archives, there wasn’t much to rely on. So, it was critical for the project to involve a specialist, and we did. Juan Jesus Vallejo is a Spanish historian, Egyptologist, and author of four books on ancient Egypt. With his advice, we understood that the Coptic community would be an excellent source to trace back to Cleopatra. These Coptic women resembled the art data we had and were crucial to getting more precise body measurements. Coptic Egyptians were chosen because their community has remained ethnically homogenous for 2,000 years, so they likely haven't changed much in terms of body type.
LBB> Tell us more about the technology behind body scanning and what were the steps in identifying Cleopatra's body, to find out the perfect jeans fit for her?
Carlos> TG3D Studio is set to disrupt the supply model by creating clothing on-demand: a data-driven approach that tailors perfect fitting garments using 3D body scan technology. Thus, making clothes that one doesn't want to discard, extending their lifecycle and reducing waste.
To demonstrate how their technology can help find the perfect fit, we traced Cleopatra's body by searching art archives and measuring Coptic women that resembled the figure of the mythological queen.
LBB> Do you believe that more mainstream fashion brands will take on this advice and participate in innovation to curb waste?
Carlos> This project aims to find an innovative solution to make textile waste history and make fashion's future waste-free.
LBB> What does the scene on the waste front look like now and what do you expect it to look like in the coming 10 years? Will we see progress?
Carlos> Every year, 85% of all textiles are thrown away (according to a UNECE report in 2018). A huge proportion of these are from returned clothing purchases, single-handedly creating 2.3 billion kilograms of waste and 15 million tonnes of carbon annually in the US alone (according to Optoro 2109). Much of this ends up in landfills, not to mention the excessive energy, carbon and water use caused by the wasted production. This is particularly true when it comes to denim, which is sadly one of the most polluting fabrics to produce.
One of the most significant contributing factors to this enormous waste is poorly fitting clothes from e-commerce. A recent Wunderman Thompson report showed that 69% of fashion spending is now online. More than half of e-commerce customers knowingly over-order (Pitney Bowes, 2019), and roughly 72% of American shoppers returned badly fitting items over the 2018 holiday period (Bodyblock AI, 2019). A huge proportion of returns are then destroyed, piling fuel on the fire of the fashion industry’s wastage crisis.
LBB> How did audiences react to the campaign?
Carlos> Reactions have been positive. Now our hope is these reactions turn into actions, and the fashion industry will consider technology to help minimise textile waste and create a more sustainable future.
LBB> Currently, sustainable fashion proves to be unattainable for many due to the extra costs that come with it, which stops many people from moving towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Do you think tech innovation, and even specifically body scanning, will be attainable for the wider public?
Carlos> TG3D is already making this more accessible and available for many.
LBB> Any final thoughts?
Carlos> I still wonder what Jesus' jeans would have looked like…