Trend Bite: Art x Fashion

Kessler Ramirez

Whilst many of us consider fashion an art form in itself, leading designers and some of the art world’s most interesting talents are aligning more than ever before to create new forms of wearable art.

The idea of selling cultural kudos through artist collaborations has recently exploded, thanks to designer/artist allegiances such as Raf Simons and Sterling Ruby; Kim Jones at Dior, who tapped many artists from Hajime Sorayama to Daniel Arsham; and then, of course, Virgil Abloh, the heavy hitter in the arena of collaborative design with a message. His friendship with Takashi Murakami has been well documented and their work together over the last 10 years has spanned both the art and fashion worlds, exploring canvasses, installations and clothing. 

Supreme has made fine art accessible to a wider audience of streetwear enthusiasts for years; way back in 1998, it launched its first artistic collaboration in conjunction with Keith Haring. This blending of art and fashion continued to spark collaborative inspiration and the brand went on to team up with artists such as Richard Prince, Jeff Koonz, Joe Cool, Ralph Bakshi, and more over the past two decades. In 2013, Supreme even created a collection to honour the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who was the ultimate embodiment of social commentary in the form of art.

For SS2020, Amsterdam-based lifestyle brand Daily Paper collaborated with the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, to create a collection of 20 wearable art pieces featuring some of the painter’s most iconic masterpieces, sketches and quotes. The mission behind the collection was to allow Van Gogh’s art to become more accessible to younger adults who may not be familiar with his history, and enable them to become inspired and enriched by the works of Van Gogh’s life in a form more relatable to them. 

Daily Paper describes the thinking behind the collection: “Van Gogh connects cultures and people from all ages and backgrounds. He painted farmers, citizens and country people. Van Gogh doesn’t only tap into an exclusive world, he is there for the people.” 

What these collaborations offer is threefold: They help to elevate a fashion product with another layer of exclusivity; they attach the authenticity that’s associated with the artist to a more affordable and accessible product; and most importantly, they educate and inspire younger consumers about worlds they may know nothing about. 

As we have explored in previous seasons, this concept of knowledge as a form of status is certainly a key driver in fashion right now. The concept of wearable art now spans across all sectors of design, from high-end designers to Etsy-based DIY creators, with inspirations ranging from classical art periods to modern-day cultural references.

But what’s happening in the grass roots is even more interesting: New groups of upstart makers, insta-creators and artists are reviving the fashion world with their risk-taking energy.

New York-based designer-turned-artist, Slumpy Kev started his journey selling through Depop, the go-to marketplace for Gen-Z’ers and Millennials looking for one-of-a-kind, bespoke pieces. His unique designs — which feature hand-painted variations of beloved retro cartoon characters, such as the “Flintstones,” to more-recent properties such as “Courage the Cowardly Dog” on various types of clothing — have won over fans and celebrities across the world by igniting nostalgic memories of our favorite childhood cartoons. 

His work sparked an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response and encouraged him to explore other creative outlets. This led to his first true art pieces in February 2019 which were featured in a Depop exhibition in Los Angeles. The exhibition included 15 pieces, all silhouettes of famous cartoon characters with distorted images of the characters within. This was a huge step away from his original work on clothing and only 10 months later, he held his first solo show as part of the global arts fair, Art Basel, in Miami, in a partnership with Depop and Cartoon Network.  

Kessler Rameriz is another young artist, based in California, gaining notoriety for her intricately hand-painted denim patch pockets featuring some of the world’s most famous works of art while paying homage to the most influential creators in art history. Recently featured in Vogue, Rameriz meticulously perfects her mini masterpieces, inspired by artists including Piet Mondrian, Vincent Van Gogh, Sandro Botticelli and more. As creative groups shift away from secrecy and move toward sharing their processes, techniques and knowledge to inspire others, Rameriz has started sharing tutorials and insight on how she creates her work and the inspiration behind it. A whole new generation of insta-creators such as @jeantoons, @kunnba,@dimda_, @spirituvl and @paddybatesman are making names for themselves through their creative hand-painted expressions adorned onto denim.

As our lives move online more than ever before, this peer-to-peer generation are innovating both design and processing through online platforms and are able to reach deeper into their creative niches. 

“Creativity often comes out of the most challenging of scenarios” Daniel Marks, chief creative officer of The Communications Store, says. 

Being quarantined indoors for months means people have more time on their hands than ever before and this is causing independent artists to embrace the DIY mindset by sharing their crafts via live stream.

As digital space becomes an increasingly important forum for brands and artists who are taking their platforms online, the ability to spark positivity, connection and education through design is increasingly relevant. While many of us feel the loss of that human-to-human connection as stay-at-home orders continue to be extended, we are able to feel the realness and authenticity within products that have been hand-made or embellished by a person rather than by a machine.

Kingpins’ Trend Bites are created by Denim Dudes to give you a small taste of the full denim trend report they have prepared for the season. Interested in purchasing the full report? Visit Kingpins Trend page.

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