Finally! A real live captain underpants! His name is Timmy O’Neill, and he works for Patagonia. I was looking at the Patagonia website today because of a book I am reading for another class, and I stumbled upon this video. In this short and (sort-of) funny film, Timmy travels to Japan to convince the people there to recycle their underwear to make new clothes. Patagonia collects underwear from consumers all over the world and sends them to a plant in Japan. This plant then melts down the underwear and spins new fibers from the material. These fibers go into making new underwear, shirts, jackets, and pants.
Recycling your underwear isn’t an easy thing to advertise. To conquer this awesome quest, Patagonia uses a humorous and awkward character (Timmy the Underwear Man) to grab people’s attention. He runs through the streets of Tokyo, dancing, eating noodles, and giving people wedgies. At the end, after meeting the undie-guru and drinking tea brewed from ancient underwear, he ends up on a big telescreen and preaches his environmental sermon to the multitude of people watching from the streets. They applaud him and all go to recycle their underwear.
Although the video is very corny and sometimes politically incorrect, I think it is a great medium for bringing awareness to this sustainable system. People always want to watch weird videos nowadays, and this one is definitely wacky. It also shows that Patagonia is a “hip” company, appealing to an age group that would usually shun clothing worn by their dads. These days, people not only want to wear good looking clothes, but clothes they believe are good for society or the earth. Look at American Apparel, who not only sells cool clothes, but makes them with a “fair-labor” guarantee. Patagonia has been a steady leader in the “green” clothing industry, and this is paying off for them with the new fad. I suspect many other companies will soon have “underwear men” battling in their front lines as well.