Art and mode in resonance -Sumi Ink Club × Saint Laurent

Every season, a lot of items appear on the runway which are embedded with art. Each and every piece of art is chosen especially by the designer and so carries with it a hint of their strong willpower, and behind each piece exist the history and stories of each artist and brand. These pieces are special in that they were born out of the resonance of both art and fashion. It would be unfortunate if people were to wear them without realizing this fact. If you know the background behind an item, it will help you love the brand and the designer even more. We would like you to realize the joy of wearing these objects by learning about art through these objects of high fashion.

The art pieces that appear on the runway will, of course, gather attention from people in the fashion business from all over the world. While some pieces are made by famous artists like Warhol and Basquiat, sometimes we also get to see items made by artist not yet known by the general public. In the latter case, the name of these unknown artists will travel across the globe in just a single night. In other words, luxury brands and their designers have the power to make an unknown artist known throughout the world.

Hedi Slimane is a designer who understands this truth (and perhaps even uses it to his advantage) and has used it to unearth various buried talents whose art we didn’t know before. For his collections, he often uses music and art by independent artists, and has provided a starting point for many of them. I feel an especially great example of this is the period Saint Laurent started to be popular, starting in the 2013AW season. When Hedi Slimane moved his base of operations from Paris to LA, his pieces also started to appear on the runway of California, and here he started actively using the works of artists and musicians based in LA. As a result, a lot of never-before seen items and types of show music were born. One of the examples is this motorbike jacket.

This leather jacket exemplifies the rock spirit Hedi Slimane is known for best, but instead of the traditional all-black jacket, here the arms have a graphic design imprinted on them. This design was made with the help of Sarah Rara and Luke Fischbeck, belonging to the art group Sumi Ink Club based in LA. Their work is easily recognizable for their use of Sumi (Ink) to make minute drawings, and are created by using a style known as group drawing, where people from all layers of society, all ages, genders and races join together to create one piece. On the official website, their works are made public in such a format that anyone in the whole world can view, print and use them for free.

The way these pieces are created, in spirit of the freedom found in California, the art style that lead to the originality that can be felt from these pieces, and the monotone world view that is shared with Saint Laurent. When considering all the factors, you could almost say it was inevitable that the work of Sumi Ink Club was featured in the pieces made by Hedi Slimane. The motorbike jacket born because of the collaboration of these two artists is definitely a one-of-a-kind piece, having an impact that cannot be found in other jackets. (By the way, when this jacket was first worn on the runway, the model who was wearing it was Fletcher Shears, one of the twins in the punk band The Garden, who was also born in California.)

Sumi Ink Club, having received this homage by Hedi Slimani, have become known all over the world by virtue of a single jacket, and are continuing their work actively. A single item can make an artist famous overnight, sometimes changing their lives completely. This means the connection between art and fashion is deeper than we realize, making it all the more interesting.

Text_ Kana Koyama