Innovation That Matters

Newspaper jacket keeps homeless people warm

Nonprofit & Social Cause

We shamefully admit we’re a year late reporting on this one—don’t know how we managed to miss it! But given our sister-site’s current focus on generosity, our timing doesn’t seem entirely off. 😉 Aiming to make things a fraction easier for homeless people in Canada—who face winter temperatures of as low as -30 degrees Celsius—Canadian ad agency TAXI developed the 15 Below Jacket, a garment that owes its insulating properties to old newspapers. Distributed to the homeless by the Salvation Army, the jacket’s durable, waterproof and wind-resistant case has internal pockets in the sleeves, body and hood for its owner to fill with newspaper. Readily available from recycling bins, bunched-up newspaper is an excellent insulating material. The garment was named ’15 Below’ to reference the Celsius mark at which a cold warning is issued, urging the homeless to get off the streets. It’s also a nod to the design competiton that produced it, which celebrates TAXI’s 15th birthday. Creative director Steve Mykolyn came up with the concept, winning the privilege of testing his prototype in a meat locker. Supervised by a paramedic, the design helped him survive eight hours in -28 degree conditions, after which 3,000 jackets went into production (in December 2007). When stuffed, the jacket—created by Canadian designer Lida Baday—looks like a garment anybody could wear, avoiding stigmatization of its wearers. In the summer months it can be emptied and used as a raincoat, folded up into a backpack to be transported, or filled and used as a pillow. An altruistic project that rubs off very well on all involved, sponsors are currently being sought to fund distribution in other countries. For much more on how brands are embracing generosity, check out’s February trend briefing: GENERATION G. Spotted by: Claudia Allwood



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