DeRay’s Blue Vest Headed for ‘a Big Wash,’ Says DeRay

Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Last week, I was privileged to attempt and solve one of
America’s largest sartorial mysteries:
How often should DeRay be washing his vest
? On Monday
morning I briefly chatted with the activist,
podcast host
, and reluctant fashion icon DeRay McKesson
about his personal commitment to a single blue Patagonia vest.

My previous investigation hypothesized, based on extensive
social media combing, that McKesson has only washed his vest
two times. He confirmed that the vest’s received two “big
washes” over the years and hinted that this week the vest may
get a third full cleaning.

That process, which he said could take up to seven hours,
includes using environmentally safe detergent—Patagonia
specifies “non-toxic, biodegradable types preferred”—then
tossing it in the dryer (no heat) with two clean tennis balls
to help fluff the vest’s down. He joked that not having enough
time to find two tennis balls held up his cleaning efforts.

“I’m shocked that people are shocked,” said McKesson, who
sounded perplexed over people’s obsession over the health of
his vest. He further clarified that Patagonia, which frequently
patches the vest, also cleans it when he takes to the company,
and that it doesn’t smell. (Being on the phone, I was unable to
confirm or deny this claim.)

“I’m not 15 IQ points smarter cause I’m in a suit,” said
McKesson, when asked why he wore the vest to Vanity Fair’s
Oscars party. “[The vest] keeps me grounded in what I do.”
McKesson stressed, even if the vest is visible to the public,
it’s a personal reminder of his early days protesting in the
streets throughout the country, and he doesn’t want to lose
track of those memories whether
he’s meeting President Obama
or cavorting with celebrities
on the red carpet.

Personally, I feel my investigative work here is done. McKesson
has washed his vest twice and potentially it’ll happen a third
time this week. Nothing in our conversation implied he’d ever
retire the vest which, I gotta say, I respect such commitment
to personal branding.

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