Collections pairing the imagery of established artists with high-profile apparel and accessories labels have represented a trend in the licensing and fashion businesses for some time, and that continues, as recent deals attest:
- Keith Haring’s estate and its agent Artestar are collaborating with Coach on a spring/summer 2018 collection of handbags and wallets, representing the latest in a long series of collaborations by the accessories brand. The limited edition encompasses familiar images such as Haring’s dancing men and dogs, as well as themes such as skateboarders and boom boxes.
- Uniqlo expanded its SPRZ NY project, which features artist-inspired items, to include a new collection of t-shirts and sweatshirts based on the designs of Sister Mary Corita (Corita Kent), licensed by the Corita Art Center and agent Parham Santana. The late artist, who was also known as an activist for social justice and peace, created brightly colored serigraph prints and watercolors.
- Guy Harvey Enterprises, which handles the business dealings for marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey, teamed with Perry Ellis International for a line of apparel including t-shirts, resort wear, performance fishing wear, and headwear for all ages, to debut in 2019. Harvey, a conservationist as well as an artist, already oversees an extensive range of apparel, gifts, jewelry, and artwork, with a portion of proceeds going to environmental causes through the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation.
- Billabong announced its second limited edition under the Warhol Surf banner, based on Andy Warhol imagery licensed by the Andy Warhol Foundation. The board shorts, tops and tees, swimwear, and accessories are inspired by Warhol’s pop art images, including palm trees and tropical flower blossoms.
These examples, all announced in the last four months, illustrate the wide variety of fashion and art styles that are participating in and furthering this trend. And they represent just a small slice of the broader pool of fashion-artist collaborations, which range from Jeff Koons with Louis Vuitton—whose latest joint collection reinterprets classic paintings such as the Mona Lisa and Monet’s waterlilies—to polka dot specialist Yayoi Kusama with streetwear label X-Girl.
In fact, there have been so many artist-designer collaborations on the market for so long, and with new ones guaranteed to debut each season, that the phenomenon has become almost more of a style or genre in its own right than a trend.