When it comes to style, I’m just playing ketchup
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Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that, for most of my life, I have been a self-styled slob.
In fact, when it comes to haute couture, I am essentially the human equivalent of an unmade bed.
Like a lot of slovenly guys of my particular gender, I figured I was at the height of fashion if all the condiment stains on my golf shirts were roughly the same colour.
But prepare yourselves for a shock, stylish readers, because it turns out that all this time I have literally been on the cutting edge of fashion, a style guru who is clearly ahead of his time.
I made this shocking discovery the other day when I stumbled on news reports trumpeting the fact that the good folks at Heinz — yes, the famed makers of shirt-destroying ketchup — have launched a new line of second-hand clothing that is (dramatic pause) deliberately pre-stained with ketchup.
According to a gaggle of news reports, Heinz teamed up with a vintage clothing brand to release purposefully ketchup-stained shirts. Their “vintage drip collection” features thrifted clothes in a partnership with thredUP, an online resale platform.
The pre-stained collection features 157 second-hand streetwear and designer pieces, each with a unique ketchup stain — “because when it’s Heinz, it’s not a stain, it’s a statement,” a press release from the companies gushed.
What this means is that fashion mavens such as myself no longer have to go to all the trouble of purchasing ketchup and mustard and staining their own clothing. The forward-thinking people at Heinz and thredUP have decided to do it for us.
As a veteran journalist and reader of magazines that contain photographs of people wearing stylish clothes, I am well aware that the notion of sporting deliberately stained old clothing tends to divide readers along gender lines.
My wife’s reaction: “Eww! That’s disgusting!”
My reaction: “Sweet! Now you know what I want for my birthday.”
Here is what Alyssa Cicero, Heinz brand manager, said in a statement about the stylishly stained duds: “While Heinz is recognized globally for its iconic glass bottle, keystone and slow-pouring ketchup, we saw an opportunity to view the stain we’ve been leaving on clothes as another iconic brand symbol and change the narrative from a stain to a statement.”
The proceeds from this new online fashion venture will go to support global hunger relief, and the companies are confident it will be a major hit among consumers who are much younger than this aging columnist.
“At thredUP, we believe every piece of clothing deserves a second life — even summer barbecue casualties,” is what Erin Wallace, thredUP’s VP of integrated marketing, told the media. “We’re thrilled to partner with an iconic brand like Heinz to create the first-ever line of ketchup-stained second-hand clothes, celebrating reuse. This collection offers a unique way for fashion risk-takers and food lovers alike to participate in the circular economy, while doing good for people and the planet.”
I am not a marketing expert, but I believe what they are saying is that they hope to take advantage of the fact that millennials and members of gen Z are (a) willing to buy almost anything if someone tells them it is the hip thing to do; and (b) too (bad word) lazy to stain their own clothing.
But I do not want to take a negative tone today, because I have spent several seconds pondering Heinz’s foray into fashion and I personally think it is a genius idea.
Like most guys I know, every shirt — and I am not kidding about this — sports at least one condiment stain. Even after my shirts have been washed multiple times, these stains still leave behind permanent grease marks that make the following fashion statement: “No one ever taught me how to eat with a fork!”
Not only are my shirts festooned with ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce stains, but, if pressed, I can provide detailed information about the origin of each and every greasy mark.
“That particular stain is one of my favourites,” I will typically tell someone at a stylish party. “I got that one at a Grey Cup party in 2011 when I attempted to set the chicken-wing-eating record in the first quarter.”
But brace yourselves for a stylish shock, because I have decided the time has come to part with my complete collection of condiment-stained clothing.
I plan on setting up a little stand at the end of my driveway to sell T-shirts fouled with ketchup, torn jeans besmirched with mustard, and other apparel blemished with everything from salsa to ranch dressing.
My wife thinks it’s a really stupid thing to do, but I’m pretty sure this is how Ralph Lauren got started.
Doug has held almost every job at the newspaper — reporter, city editor, night editor, tour guide, hand model — and his colleagues are confident he’ll eventually find something he is good at.