Safe Sex Kits Get a Hot Makeover from the Designers at Marc Jacobs

Written by | HIV, Wellness

nyc sure bags

Photo courtesy Marc Jacobs

How do you make being prepared with protection something everyone wants to do? Ask one of fashion’s favorite names.

The novel fashion accessory unveiled by Marc Jacobs last December has less to do with being runway ready and more to do with being ready to protect yourself and a partner during intimacy.

The limited edition cloth bag and plastic container is the latest iteration of the New York City Department of Health’s #PlaySure kit, an innovative safer sex package designed to hold everything people need to play “sure” — including both condoms and lubricant.

“We keep evolving this kit to make it an object of desire,” says Health Department Deputy Commissioner Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, who first showcased the Marc Jacobs-designed bag on World AIDS Day. The result is protection that seems less imposing. “They look like a little sexy hockey puck,” Dasklakis explains. “We think that HIV prevention isn’t something that’s scary.”

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The Health Department launched a kit designed by the Keith Haring Foundation in 2015, followed by one created by New York City-based artist Jordan Eagles in 2016. This past year, the agency approached Marc Jacobs with the idea of designing an update of their own.

Christopher Brumfield, Marc Jacobs’ former Director of Art and Concept for Special Projects, was enthused to try. “When the project came across my desk, I instantly saw this all-in-one kit as something definitive in the community that has everything you need to be involved in responsible and safe sex,” he says.

“We had developed several patterns and designs for the bag, but ultimately we went with a sketch design that Marc had tinkered around with,” Brumfield says. “The colors were a slight nod to 1980s club scene colors, but knowing that this was to release in the winter, I built Marc’s initial sketches into a play on Nordic Sweater Patterns. Best to ‘cover up’ so you don’t get sick in the winter. All in all, the idea has a multitude of layered stories, and at the same time makes an otherwise stale object fun and accessible with a touch of Marc Jacobs to elevate it to that next level.”

nyc sure four colors

Brumfield says that Marc Jacobs has always “jumped at the chance” to educate people on leading healthier lifestyles. “The HIV/AIDS community is made up of so many diverse groups of people, but the one common thread is that color, happiness and — most importantly — humor are essential to everyone,” he says. “And we touched on this in the design, in hopes that it could reflect a sense of ease when it comes to the simple action of respecting your partner, and yourself.”

Since the free kits were introduced, the Health Department has distributed over 150,000; anyone can obtain them at community events or NYC Sexual Health Clinics. Officials suspect the newest version will become familiar sights.

“Marc came up with this amazing bag and a fun color scheme,” Daskalakis says, adding, “Who doesn’t want a free Marc Jacobs bag given to you by New York City?”

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Last modified: March 19, 2018

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