Siddhant Agarwal is sending a single T-shirt across 13 cities in five continents to capture the travel essence of 2020. This is Project Hope.
“Tracking the journey of a single T-shirt across the world is fun,” admits Siddhant Agarwal, “It is like how we tracked our friends’ or family’s flights before the pandemic.” Siddhant is the founder of Project Hope, an initiative that sends a single T-shirt (as well as the design stencils) across the world — as if to say, travel is possible, even in these strange times.
Like many of us during the pandemic, Siddhant missed travelling. The 25-year-old events manager and content creator has been working from home for most of 2020, often looking out of the window of his Delhi home wondering when everything would finally go back to normal.
Reality hit when restrictions eased a bit a couple of months later but he and his teammates were asked to go on unpaid leave, an unfortunate reality for lakhs of employees across the country during the pandemic. He stayed at home in Shahjahanpur, near Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. “It was when no events were happening and no one needed an event manager,” he says over the phone in a matter-of-fact tone. “Then I got an anxiety attack.”
This moment of desperation ignited the idea for Project Hope which Siddhant calls, “a monolith of one of my strongest times. I felt that if I can overcome a situation so dark, anyone can.” Similar to the million dollar man stickers that can be found all over the world in unexpected places, he hopes the T-shirt can make people over the world, a little less alone in their anxiety.
Talking about the design of the T-shirt, Siddhant says, “It had to be recognisable but also minimalist, and open to interpretation too. I’m known among my friends to always wear a black T-shirt so I decided on that colour for Project Hope for a personal touch. For the logo, I chose two parenthesis facing each other to convey both darkness and hope. I also courier a few design stencils of the logo as it is not wise to ask people to wear the same shirt. This way, they can spray paint the logo on to any of their own black tees.” Plus, Siddhant affectionately calls the T-shirt ‘she’ simply to give the garment a living personality.
Leveraging his network of content creators, Siddhant is collaborating with international vloggers to turn Project Hope into a mini movie fest. The vloggers who are part of Project Hope include Gabriel Seow (Singapore), Jack Lo Chiu Pang (Hong Kong), Nonaka Takashi (Tokyo), Chris Baltazar (Hollywood, Los Angeles), Malakai (New York City), and Brandon Royce (Canmore, Canada). These vloggers are different in their lifestyles, too: a free-climber, a skateboarder, a parkour artist, a graffiti artist, a busker, a free-style rapper and an alpine climber.
He elaborates, “Every time a creator gets the T-shirt, they do a shoot and make a vlog of a day in their life during the pandemic while wearing it. People are then able to see what life is like in those cities at the moment; some are empty and some are moving as usual. You also see how much the lives of content creators were impacted by the pandemic. Each mini-film is personal but they all convey the same message of hope.”
Other places on the itinerary include, London, Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Cape Town and Mumbai — cultural capitals of the world. At the moment, the T-shirt is in New York City, where it arrived last week. Getting the couriers done was no small feat; it took 25 days for the T-shirt to reach Singapore from Delhi. “I couldn’t go into Project Hope with a specific schedule in mind, but luckily DHL were eager to help out on this project,” he points out, “I also get to interact with the vloggers in a way that I wouldn’t have before. Every one of them was very eager to take part in it.”
Siddhant concludes there is no financial gain from Project Hope, nor should there be; he just believes in a safer and stronger tomorrow.
Check out Project Hope on Instagram @originalnewdelhi.