The Critics: PETER YORK ON ADS: Immaculate concept of the crease- free citizen

NO 265: STA-PREST SHIRTS
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The Independent Culture
The market for Sta-Prest used to lie with very clean conservative- looking young men who'd been in the forces or who'd wanted to be and weren't buying into poncy fashion. Their point of difference was their durable just-ironed-ness, their uncreasedness.

Now, Sta-Prest seems to be a Levi sub-brand, their advertising given the Levi treatment - meaning that Sta-Prest's values have become a bit more ambivalent and ironic. For a start, there's The Honey Monster's anorexic younger brother, a curious animatronic, yellow, plush kind of creature - and it's listening to drum and bass in the most beaten-up American compact coupe.

The art directors must have rescued this car from the crusher. It's a complete work of art in itself, blue with a white door cannibalised from some other wreck, the whole thing looking like a deconsecrated police car after a spectacular chase.

The creature is a passenger, and his driver - what exactly is the relationship? - is a young man with one of those post-Gallaher late 1960's haircuts. But the point is, this odd couple are driving this wreck around a very posh American suburb, lots of green and lots of Jacobethan.

They're obviously subversives or worse. So it's not remotely surprising that a police motorcyclist stops them. As he does, the creature does two clever things; he switches the drum and bass to Country and Western and he reverses an incriminating photograph on the dash board - one of a policewoman in a state of undress - to one of a horse.

The policeman gets the strange pair to show their identity papers - there is something sweet about a plush puppet's passport. Once out of the car, Neil's another person because he's wearing the most immaculate Sta-Prest blue shirt imaginable. Then they open the boot where - laid out shop-window style - there's more Sta-Prest with hospital corners. That's enough for the policeman. He lets them go, practically salutes them, then examines the creases on his fawn regulation-issue shirt.

The lads are away. The moral is clearly that Sta-Prest clothing works at two levels of meaning and saves subversives from the law. I wonder if that's how the ultra-clean mob of former squaddies sees it?

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