The fashion world loves a collaboration, and 2017 was a testament to that. This year, brands — from Gucci to Champion — overwhelmingly sought out artists for partnerships.
Gucci, in particular, has seen major success since being rejuvenated by its creative director, Alessandro Michele, who has frequently collaborated with artists on everything from advertisements to T-shirts. Gucci’s parent company, Kering, announced in late October that the brand had seen a 49 percent growth in sales (to $1.82 billion) since the start of this year.
Following its successful “GucciGhost” collaboration last year with graffiti artist Trevor Andrew — which saw Andrew tagging bags, sneakers and leather jackets — Gucci teamed with illustrator Angelica Hicks in May on a line of limited-edition T-shirts. Known for her tongue-in-cheek spin on fashion trends and the industry’s famous faces, Hicks contributed her colorful drawings to shirts that featured statements like, “The Gospel According to Gucci.”
Pieces from Gucci’s capsule collection with Coco Capitán
By June, the brand was ramping up its work with another artist — this time, the Instagram phenom Coco Capitán, who Gucci first collaborated with on a collection of T-shirts last year. This year, they expanded on the collaboration with more T-shirts, as well as sweatshirts, knits, coats, backpacks and fanny packs, all emblazoned with the artist’s signature, seemingly-scribbled phrases, like “Common sense is not so common” and “Tomorrow is now yesterday.”
No stranger to artist collaborations, Louis Vuitton unveiled its latest in April: a 51-piece collection of handbags, keychains and small leather accessories made with Jeff Koons. Dubbed the “Masters” project, the collection was inspired by Koons’ “Gazing Ball” works, which placed a glinting blue sphere in the center of famous old paintings, like the Mona Lisa. “It’s a great platform for communication,” Koons told The New York Times, of the collaboration.
Dior followed suit in October, rolling out a line of limited-edition Lady Dior bags redesigned by artists from all over the world, including American photographer Jack Pierson, Chinese photographer Hong Hao and the Kenyan-American illustrator Jamilla Okubo. With only 50-150 units of each iteration available, the bags are now retailing for up to $9,700. “I think that boundary between fashion and art is getting less and less defined lately,” Pierson, who works in mediums including photography and sculpture, told WWD of the collab.
A T-shirt from J.W. Anderson’s capsule collection with illustrator Kelly Beeman
Overall, though, it was actually artist T-shirt collaborations — easy to both make and move — that ruled the day.
Kelly Beeman, another Instagram-famous illustrator, worked with J.W. Anderson on two T-shirts and an oversize pullover that were sold exclusively through e-tailer Ssense.
Champion continued to ride the wave of its refreshed brand image with a T-shirt capsule that saw the artists Jean Julien, Jody Barton and Yu Nagaba putting their own spin on the brand’s famous “C” logo.
Milly creative director Michelle Smith got political (another trend this year) when she partnered with artist Laurie Simmons on a limited-edition T-shirt in honor of Planned Parenthood’s 100-year anniversary. It featuring Simmons’ image of an athletic runners’ legs topped off with a large bouquet of flowers, and all of the proceeds went to Planned Parenthood.
“Artists give designers a way of reimagining their aesthetic and a way of doing cool, limited-edition releases,” the graffiti artist Alec Monopoly, who has worked with Tag Heur and Philipp Plein, told Glossy earlier this year. “Collaborations broaden the demographic and consumer base of their products.”