The Brand Radar: Carhatt WIP, 2000 AD and how brands can embrace creative communities

Start Licensing’s Ian Downes looks at how Rebellion worked with different artists to reinterpreted 2000 AD and its characters for a tribute in Carhatt WIP magazine.

Fashion brand Carhartt Work In Progress have recently collaborated with British comic 2000 AD. Collaborations between IP owners and fashion brands are not uncommon, but the nature of this partnership sets it apart.

It is not centred on an apparel range per se; rather it’s a celebration and recognition of 2000 AD’s characters, art and place in comic culture.

Carhartt was established in 1994 by Edwin Faeh. The brand develops its own fashion collections based on original Carhartt workwear. Carhartt WIP seeks to create collections which are authentic adaptations of the original American workwear, while engaging with the subcultures that have embraced the Carhartt brand. This is where 2000 AD comes into the picture.

One way that Carhartt WIP engage with their consumers is to develop and publish a bespoke magazine called WIP. The magazine is generally published twice a year by Carhartt and distributed free of charge throughout their stores. The brand opened its first store in London in 1997 and now operates over 80 locations worldwide.

Ian Downes, The Brand Radar

The latest issue of the magazine features a tribute to 2000 AD which includes a series of original artworks created by artists such as Oliver Payne, Ed Davis, Leomi Sadler , Ancco and Skatething.

From Carhartt’s point of view this is an authentic way to engage with 2000 AD fans and fans of comics generally, while also giving an opportunity to a group of artists to be involved in a noteworthy project in a non-traditional channel for them.

Each artist has developed a piece of art influenced by 2000 AD and its characters, but very much in their own style. This fits in well with the history of 2000 AD and how the comic has featured a range of artists over the years. It is a really proactive and positive way for Carhartt to support and engage with the artist community.

Ian Downes, The Brand Radar

For both parties it has helped establish a working partnership and relationship which could lead onto other developments. Most obviously it could lead onto an apparel collection – but other potential partnerships include exhibitions of the artwork, limited edition products such as prints and, of course, further art programmes.

There is a real authenticity behind this partnership, and it demonstrates Carhartt’s understanding and appreciation of subcultures like comics and comic art. This is a trait that undoubtedly resonates well with consumers. Carhartt also have their own skate team and music department. Seemingly for Carhartt, it is important to immerse themselves fully in the worlds their consumers enjoy.

From 2000 AD’s point of view, this partnership has delivered a great showcase for their brand while connecting them to some new artists and styles. It will open up a debate amongst existing fans and exposes 2000 AD to a new audience. It’s also a very stylish rendition of the comic and its characters. It has the feeling of a special edition comic within the magazine; something that will appeal to 2000 AD fans. The WIP magazine is a high spec one printed on glossy paper. It showcases the art and artists well.

Ian Downes, The Brand Radar

This kind of partnership also creates great content for consumer PR and social media for 2000 AD’s owners Rebellion. They have a high degree of engagement with their readers and a project like this helps build on that. 2000 AD have alerted their readers to the partnership through social media posts which should mean fans will visit stores to pick up their own copy of the WIP magazine.

It will be interesting to see how this partnership develops but even if it goes no further, both Carhartt WIP and Rebellion have found a way of celebrating, supporting and engaging with the comics community, coupled with creating an opportunity for a talented bunch of artists to showcase their work.

For details of where you can pick up a copy of the magazine, see:

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