The Opinionated Designer: Art becomes fashion, fashion becomes art…

The Opinionated Designer’s Emma Horton looks at how artists – both well-known icons and more niche names – are making waves in the fashion sector.

Although the past two years have seen art licensing in fashion gradually building on the high street, it seems as though there is still a huge wave to be ridden.

In one month, we had Puma’s collaboration with Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone, Helmut Lang’s capsule with American conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas and also the release of Uniqlo’s latest collection – and in store take-over – with Roy Lichtenstein.

Emma Horton, The Opinionated Designer

It’s clear to see that art is infiltrating the fashion industry from every angle spanning sportswear to high end.

Even artists who are no strange to fashion, such as Keith Haring, are getting reimagined and relaunched at the higher end of the industry. The way Etudes has taken a reference and mixed it in with the current burning trend for the seventies – and consumers’ ongoing need for some light-hearted fun is nothing other than genius!

Emma Horton, The Opinionated Designer
Artists such as Lichtenstein and Haring, who have a strong and recognisable aesthetic, have been circulating the fashion realms for many years and still continue to do so. However, it’s interesting to see that the latest wave of collaborations and collections are not so much based on obvious and sought-after artists, but those who have been hand-picked for their relevance.

Felipe Pantone has always stood out as an exceptional digital artist with an incredible three-dimensional aesthetic in his work. Something which went hand in hand with Puma’s view to create a range innovative designs and fabrications.

Emma Horton, The Opinionated Designer
At the other end of the spectrum Helmut Lang chose conceptual artist Hank Willis Thomas for his stand-out text-based work, helping the brand to portray what it’s calling “a moment in time where we are all being called to examine our own privileges and biases”.

Emma Horton, The Opinionated Designer

Everybody now holds the license for various artists and high street retailers will continue to buy the most recognisable and classics, but it will be fascinating to see if the move towards meaningful and strategic art collaborations could be on the cards for more than just those operating within the higher end of the market.

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