“X” marks the spot: When fashion brands collaborate with artists and A-listers

by Jade Rhode

How cool is it when people come together to collaborate? But how iconic is it when artists or celebrities collaborate with big brands in the biz?

Source: hm.com. Fashion brand H&M once had limited edition prints inspired by cult classic Harry Potter.

In fashion, collaborations are always happening. It is said that collaborations are not what you do, but rather something that you’ve achieved. I find this statement to be accurate as it elevates the status of the artist or celebrity. Not only does it show another side of your favourite celeb, but it also promotes the work of an artist!

Unfortunately, artists are not always getting the recognition that they rightfully deserve. Most times our favourite brands sneakily copy an artist’s work and present it as their own.

Take Zara, a repeat offender, for example. This Spanish apparel retailer known for its fast fashion has been accused several times of stealing designs from independent artists.

Source: Instagram: @tuesdaybassen. In 2016, independent artist Tuesday Bassen took to Instagram to expose Zara’s knockoffs of her work.

Los Angeles-based independent artist Tuesday Bassen realised the theft one day when fans asked if she was collaborating with the big brand. Tuesday addressed the issue on Instagram saying, “I had my lawyer contact Zara, and they literally said I have no base because I’m an indie artist and they’re a major corporation and that not enough people even know about me for it to matter.”

Another incident of theft happened in 2019 when the brand Siberia Hills collaborated with singer Billie Eilish. The singer was forced to pull her capsule collection with the brand. Why? Well, fans of the artist Makoto Kurokawa noticed that the designs on the hoodies and tees were quite similar to the art. The art in question was Kurokawa’s drawing of the character Tojo from the anime show Long Live!.

However, not all top brands are shady. Fashion is a wearable form of art, and art is meant to provoke thought and emotion. That being said, it’s only right that these brands collaborate with artists, right? Below are five times that brands collaborated with artists.

1. Banele Khoza x Trenery

Source: woolworths.co.za. Artist Banele Khoza painting his designs for Trenery.

In 2018, Pretoria-based artist and founder of the BKhz Gallery Banele Khoza was announced as the final collaborator for The Trenery Guild. If you’ve shopped at Woolworths, you would have seen a section in the store dedicated to this brand. Banele’s designs for the collaboration came from Trenery’s December collection colour palette. The palette consisted of the colours peach and pink as seen in the image above. His art was then printed on scarves given to qualifying customers as a gift with purchase.

2. Takashi Murakami x Louis Vuitton

Source: highsnobiety.com. This iconic bag was all the rage back in the noughties!

What do you get when an iconic artist collaborates with an iconic brand? Well, you get an iconic outcome! Back in 2003, legendary artist Takashi Murakami collaborated with Louis Vuitton. They came up with many luxury items such as rugs and character bags, but the most iconic “it” bag was the Monogram Multicolore Speedy City Bag pictured above.

3. Salvador Dalí x Elsa Schapiarelli

Source: magazine.artland.com. The “Organza Dinner Dress with Painted Lobster” by Elsa Schapiarelli and Salvador Dalí.

In the 1930s, the artist Salvador Dalí’s Aphrodisiac Lobster Telephone became the inspiration for Elsa Schapiarelli’s Organza Dinner Dress with Painted Lobster. This collaboration is seen as one of the earliest collaborations between a fashion designer and artist. The dress was first worn by American-born socialite Wallis Simpson and was considered one of the most iconic dresses of that time.

4. Piet Mondrian x Yves Saint Laurent

Source: museeyslparis.com This YSL dress was inspired by the geometric shapes made by artist Piet Mondrian.

This is not so much a collaboration, but rather Yves Saint Laurent paying tribute to Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian. Yves had a passion for paintings and often expressed his love for the artists through his designs. It was for his 1965 Autumn/Winter collection where he decided to pay tribute to Mondrian. Could this have been the inspiration for colour blocking?

5. Richard Prince x Louis Vuitton

Source: magazine.artland.com. Models donned nurse-inspired outfits complete with a signature Louis Vuitton mask. The entire ensemble took inspiration from artist Richard Prince’s painting.

Marc Jacobs – who had creative control of the brand in 2008 – designed this see-through look after seeing Richard Prince’s painting at an exhibition in 2007. Even though this look was showcased in 2008, it would still be a fashion trend today.

Now that we’ve seen collaborations between artists and top brands, let’s look at iconic collaborations between brands and A-list celebrities. There are many iconic collabs I can think of. But right now, I’ll mention my top five.

1. Zendaya x Tommy Hifiger

Source: thefashionspot.com. Triple threat Zendaya with designer Tommy Hilfiger.

Tommy and Zendaya got together for the second time to create an iconic collection. The fashion show was held at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem in 2019. Guests included models Ashley Graham and Winnie Harlow to name a few. Click here to view the collection.

2. Rihanna x Puma

Source: puma.com. The iconic Fenty x Puma creepers.

Not too long ago – 2014 to be exact – Rihanna signed with Puma to become creative director of their women’s line. Puma and Rihanna’s brand Fenty collaborated to make a limited edition collection of sneakers and slides. From this collaboration, the Fenty x Puma

unisex creeper became a clear choice for Shoe of the Year.

3. Michael x Jordan Nike

Source: businessinsider.com. Legendary basketball hall of famer Michael Jordan on the court with his iconic Nike sneakers.

The year is 1984. Nike and Michael Jordan got together to create the most iconic athlete-endorsed brand of all time: Jordan. In 2019, the exact sneakers shown in the image above – which were autographed by Jordan himself – were auctioned and sold for $560 000 (R9.3million!) It became the most expensive sneaker ever sold! To this day, Jordan produces the most iconic sneakers.

4. Pharrell Williams x G -Star RAW

Source: prnewswire.com Singer and producer Pharrell Williams became the co-owner of popular jeans brand G-Star RAW in 2016.

Plastic: But make it fashion. The collaboration between Pharrell and G-Star RAW introduced denim garments made from recycled plastic found in the ocean. What an innovative and environmentally friendly way to create clothing! "G-Star is an independently minded and forward-thinking company," said Pharrell, "I believe they will be the definitive jeans brand of the 21st century. I am looking forward to being part of that mission and to co-create G-Star's future."

5. Beyonce x Adidas

Source: adidas.com Many got into formation to purchase the much anticipated “drip” from Beyonce’s Ivy Park x Adidas collaboration.

Beyonce’s brand Ivy Park collaborated with Adidas to create a 35-piece collection. The collection included sneakers, accessories, sportswear and more. The singer stated that the collection included her personal style that she wanted to share with the world. “I love experimenting with fashion, mixing high and low, sportswear with couture, even masculine and feminine.”, said the Houston legend.

As seen from the collabs above, collaborations have changed the world of fashion! Whether it be with indie artists or award-winning celebs, top brands will continue to dominate the scene with your favs!

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