Fashion and Art

March 2021

Ekaterina Surat is a cultural scientist, philosopher and journalist. She talks about contemporary art and the art business.


What can fashion brands do to increase sales and attract more customers? There are so many options. Some brands invite famous models, singers, dancers and celebrities to their photo shoots, some hold a rave during fashion shows, as Kenzo did in mid-March, and some arrange collaborations with other brands, including artist or museum brands.
Such capsule collections with prints inspired by the work of various artists always find their audience and sell out quickly. Here are few examples of fashionable clothing and footwear brands that at one time or another have released the results of such collaborations.
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Louis Vuitton
Almost every year Louis Vuitton releases collections with different artists, but one of them has been particularly well remembered by the public. In 2017, the brand launched an incredibly popular handbag collection with Jeff Koons.
He is one of the most famous and therefore expensive artists alive today, who became well-known primarily for his 'inflatable' steel sculptures that mimicked children's toys made from oblong balloons. In this case, however, he decided to reinterpret the artists of the past.

Thus, a fragment of Claude Monet's "Water Lilies" appeared on the bags. He was one of the first Impressionists, who, in actual fact, invented this trend in painting in the 19th century. His works stand out for rich colours and a certain light haze that is characteristic of this style. It was because of the haze and blurred contours that Impressionism (from the French word "impression", meaning impressions which are very unsteady and imprecise) went down in the history of art under that name. So, on the Louis Vuitton bags, Jeff Koons decided to complement the Monet fragment with a huge gold "Monet" inscription and a keychain with his own logo – a balloon bunny.
Dr. Martens
Collaborations with artists aren't just for the haute couture runway dwellers, but also for mass-market brands. This footwear brand is known to many people for boots that look like military boots, but differ from them with a less-thick sole and an incredible variety of colours and prints. And for so many years now, Dr. Martens has been releasing special collections dedicated to different artists.

In 2019, for example, the brand released a collection supported by London's Tate Britain contemporary art gallery. This gallery dates back to the twentieth century and is primarily known for its one of the most comprehensive collections of British art. However, for the collaboration with the brand museum's representatives chose works of the British artist and novelist of the Victorian era William Turner. He is considered to be the greatest "painter of light ", who sought to show the insignificance of man compared to the surrounding and often engulfing nature.
The following year, 2020, the brand's official website launched two new designs, featuring prints of paintings by 1970s American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. His work has a lot to do with street culture, especially graffiti, which he himself did as a teenager. One of his most famous images, a sketchy crown with three points, holds a place of honour in the 'world of boots'.

This year Dr. Martens has created another aesthetically pleasing collaboration with Keith Haring. Although the artist passed away over 20 years ago due to AIDS, his artistic legacy continues to be incredibly appreciated. His art is in swiftly clear lines, concise silhouettes and vibrant colours, and the many little people who once occupied the entire canvas now cover the same concise and daring Dr. Martens shoes entirely.
Another popular clothing brand Uniqlo is keeping up with its counterpart, and has signed a four-year contract with the Louvre Museum in Paris. The first collection is already available for buy on the brand's official website. The merchandise uses images of the museum's most famous works, including Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa.

The artist who created this collaboration noted:
"I was intrigued by the fact that at the Louvre, the world-famous Mona Lisa is known as painting "No. INV 779" - this is my theme for the Art and Logic collection (a separate collection which is also part of a project with the Louvre)."
Collaborations between fashion brands and artists or museums are mutually beneficial: on the one hand, the brand secures its status in the art world and becomes a kind of bridge between consumers and works of art; on the other hand, artists and museums gladly agree to such collaborations, which, of course, attract new audiences to their works.

And given the fact that interest in the field of art among consumers of fashion brands has steadily increased over the past few years, we can expect more interesting collaborations in the nearest future!
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