This capsule is a celebration of the people who keep New York City safe, healthy, and clean.
As a born and bred New York brand, we have always admired DSNY’s iconic caduceus logo, forest green uniforms and early adoption of a lower-case sans serif typeface in the 1960s.
Those visual cues are now so omnipresent in New York City that they almost fade into the background. We enjoyed the chance to recontextualize the aesthetic hallmarks of the DSNY through the lens of ‘escapewear’ - our own playful assortment of clothing that is designed to transport the wearer to a different time, place or state of mind.
In addition to using the DSNY’s quintessential forest green abundantly, we made one style in white as a nod to the original “White Wings” - the 1880s predecessors of today’s sanitation workers who wore all white in recognition of their vital role safeguarding the health of the city. We also developed a fascination with the caduceus logo, another reference to the DSNY’s important role in healing. We incorporated numerous iterations of the caduceus into the designs, spanning many decades of the department’s history. Finally, we used eco-friendly materials such as Tencel, organic cotton terry cloth, and organic cotton canvas in keeping with the DSNY’s own environmental efforts.
Tombolo developed a new and deep admiration for the essential workers of DSNY during the COVID-19 pandemic. When COVID-19 jeopardized food security for vulnerable New Yorkers, it was DSNY that stepped up with emergency food distribution for those in need – leading an effort that distributed over one million meals per day for weeks on end. Our collaboration cheerfully applauds the DSNY’s daily, herculean efforts - the scope of which is often overlooked and taken for granted.
10% of proceeds from this collaboration support the Sanitation Foundation, an organization devoted to celebrating and supporting the essential Sanitation workforce and advancing the Department’s ambitious zero-waste agenda.
Another 10% of proceeds from this collaboration support the City of New York via NYC & Company, an organization founded to maximize travel and tourism opportunities throughout the New York City, build economic prosperity and spread the dynamic image of New York City around the world.
Read our brief history of the DSNY below.
By the early 1800’s New York City was overflowing with garbage, so much so that approaching ships could smell the city many miles out to sea. Outbreaks of cholera, yellow fever and other diseases were commonplace due to the lack of hygiene, earning New York City a mortality rate equivalent to that of medieval London.
Things began to change in 1881, when DSNY, then known as the Department of Street Cleaning, was founded to address the city's health crisis. This was one of the first cleaning agencies in the world to approach sanitation democratically, picking up trash and removing snow regardless of a neighborhood’s socioeconomic class. Sanitation workers wore all white and rallied behind the caduceus as their logo in recognition of the department's focus on health. These early sanitation workers were applauded as heroes in the streets for their efforts.
Today, DSNY is the largest municipal sanitation department in the world, employing over 9,000 workers. ‘New York’s Strongest’ support the city’s wellbeing by collecting over 10,000 tons of garbage each and every day.
In times of crisis, DSNY steps up: from hauling and methodically sifting through more than 1 million tons of debris after 9/11, to removing storm wreckage after Superstorm Sandy, to managing the logistics of delivering millions of meals to hungry New Yorkers during COVID-19. Additionally, DSNY spearheads NYC’s commitment to environmentalism, allocating a quarter of collected refuse to waste-to-energy facilities.