You would think that a clothing brand called ‘Citizens of Humanity’ would involve borderline unwearable hemp outfits sewn together with the sanctimonious salvia of annoying West Coast hippies. But no, this Citizens of Humanity is that achingly cool Californian brand that spin out more than one million pairs of jeans a year. One person is born every 40 seconds and that is not far off how often celebrities wear a pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans. And now they have tagged themselves a conscious as well – although to be fair you can hardly have a brand name like that without doing something philanthropic, Christian or demi-New Age.
During a visit to the website I went down an unexpected tangent to the CoH Instagram feed. After clicking through endless pictures of saturated LA palm trees, lobster rolls on the beach and close ups of the Arche de Triomphe, I thought, I want to work for them, I want a slice of this Californian bliss. Suffice to say they also have a painfully stylish blog, spoon-feeding readers with soundbites of the latest news in music, film and the arts.
Launching this year is a 12 month charity video campaign entitled Just Like You. The idea behind the campaign: each month Citizens of Humanity commission two short videos of innovative, inspiring creatives who talk about what they do in elegantly composed vignettes. Every man of the month designs their own t-shirt which is then put on sale with all of the profits going to a charity that they have personally selected.
There is a long legacy of fashion labels launching charity campaigns; philanthropy is more prevalent today then ever before. But, what is so refreshing about this project is that it is genuinely inspired, it goes beyond the usual set design: an image of a Hollywood actor wearing a dodgy looking ‘handmade’ T-shirt for a third world cause which people only buy out of guilt.
This campaign incorporates a real medley of creative people ranging from surfers to chefs, artists to ballerinas. The videos, especially Mickhail’s, are oddly soulful and maintain that crisp refined aesthetic the brand are so favoured for. Most importantly, it is clear that these people mean what they say, that others have invested time and effort into this campaign: in short it is no vanity project. All in all, here is a successful partnership that manages to seamlessly combine charitable giving with a genuinely impassioned curiosity for the arts. Founder of Citizens of Humanity, Jerome Dahan, will kick off the first month of the campaign along with prolific ballet dancer, cultural bastion and last but not least Sex and the City actor Mickhail Baryshnikov. And, do you know what, the t-shirts are nice too, in keeping with the classic and understated look that the brand is so iconic for.
The proceeds from Jerome’s T-shirts will go to Le Château de Vaucelles, the children’s home that Jerome himself was brought up in; the proceeds from Mickhail’s t-shirts will go to the Baryshnikov Arts Center, a place that nurtures local and international artistic talent.