ELBERT
GIRÓN

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Nube Worksuit:
Hemp Denim Workwear for Migrant Farmworkers


Materials and Notions:
12oz 100% Hemp Denim
Riri 2-way zipper
YKK brass zipper

2023
Nube is a workwear set designed for migrant farmworkers and the harsh high heat and lengthy sun exposed conditions they work in. Leveraging the fiber properties of hemp, as well as a vent system and intentional fit, Nuve looks to help migrant farmworkers regulate temperature and protect against prolonged UV exposure.

This project was born from the brief to design an apparel set for a heritage workwear company using sustainable materials. The sustainable materials were to serve a functional purpose for a work demographic of the designer’s choice. The design language were to be utilitarian, but keep worker dignity as a priority.



In looking at how materials are implemented in apparel/softgoods, I noticed a common thread. The audience is almost always upper middle class, and hardly considers working people. With the brief centered around heritage workwear, I took the opporuntity to design for a worker that is rarely considered in legacy design, politics, etc.I identified migrant farmworkers as my key user, as they are overlooked as a demographic in design, politics, and elsewhere. Of the roughly 3 million migrant farmworkers in the United States, an estimated 30-50% are undocumented. Farmwork itself has often been excluded from labor rights movements. Between immigration status and labor issues, migrant farmworkers see little protection from harsh working conditions.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the heavy essential work of migrant farmworkers continued largely uninterrupted with few accomodations, even during record heatwaves and constant wildfire smoke. Seeing that farmworkers are 20 times more likely to die from heat related illness than the average worker, I decided to focus primarily on helping farmworkers manage high heat and extended sun exposure.



Considering exclusion and socioeconomic belittlement, I decided to approach the design of the form as if I were desiging a high-end apparel item to reinforce the importance of agricultural labor. In this case, my market research was focused on looking at how high-end performance athletic wear and upper-tier apparel companies communicated value. I opted to use fit, construction, and hardware to communicate this from the information that I gleaned into this design.