As a comics fan, it’s always nice to see the medium get wider recognition from other fields, although perhaps not as surprising in the past few years of pop culture dominance, thanks in large part to blockbusting comic film adaptations. But there’s Marvel and DC influencing ‘wham!’ sweatshirts from Topshop, and then there’s the slightly more left-field collaborations you don’t see coming, like James Jean creating concepts and illustrations for Prada products. The news of Japanese fashion house Comme des Garcons teaming up with manga deity Katsuhiro Otomo, author of the seminal Akira, probably falls somewhere in between on that scale of influence and weirdness .
But there’s another name involved in that pairing, that I kept seeing crop up in all the links and articles I read: that of British art and comics publishers, Nobrow. Despite all that clicking, I couldn’t quite work out how exactly they were involved, but an email exchange later, things were clearer. Here’s Nobrow co-founder and publisher, Sam Arthur, on how the collaboration came about:
Comme des Garcons approached us to ask if they could do a kind of mash-up of some of the work from our early editions of Nobrow magazine with the work of Otomo. We cleared it with the artists CDG requested to use the images of and gave it our blessing. It seemed like a good opportunity to feature in a creative project with a very interesting iconic fashion brand, so we went for it!
All of our artists that have been involved have been really pleased with the results (they were given sign off approval on all of the work).
I think that’s a really cool thing for both Nobrow and their artists to be involved in- and indicative of their ever growing reach (with the company also looking to open a US office); it’s great to think that their fantastic comics and publications are on the radar of a Japanese fashion house. It may not initially seem like the likeliest of triumvirates, but if you think about the sensibilities shared: artistic and aesthetic excellence, it’s very befitting somehow.
But what are these mashed up collages being used for? Well, at the beginning of each season, Comme des Garcons publish a mini catalogue for their mail order clients which features the work of a particular artist, with around 40 separate pamphlets produced over the duration of the year. The idea is when these are put together they create and read as a book on their own (rather like comic issues and trades).
The recently released Spring/Summer catalogue depicts Otomo’s charcters Shōtarō Kaneda and Kei on the cover in a image familiar to comic fans. Designed by CDG founder Rei Kawakubo, the publication showcases Otomo’s Akira artwork in a series of collages put together and coloured by Kawakubo herself. As with previous artists featured in the catalogue, Otomo’s art will also be used in store displays and on greetings cards, and while nothing has been announced, it is expected that CDG will also produce exclusive collaborative items following the tradition set by predecessors.
Otomo is the first Japanese artist to feature in the brand’s publication.
(via Fashion Headline)