May 21 2020

Murakami Teams Up with Eilish Again

by Charmaine Kong

TAKASHI MURAKAMI and BILLIE EILISH have teamed up for a T-shirt collection by Uniqlo. Screengrab image of promotional video via Facebook.

Japanese apparel retailer Uniqlo revealed on May 15 of a limited-edition T-shirt collection “Billie Eilish by Takashi Murakami,” designed in collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami and American singer-songwriter Billie Eilish.

The Uniqlo series will be launched online on May 25, and in stores on May 29 pending local Covid-19 measures. Retailing from USD 9.9 to USD 14.9, the shirts display graphic prints fusing iconographies from Eilish’s merch line Blohsh with Murakami’s iconic rainbow-petaled flowers. Some shirts also feature photos of the singer.

This is not the first time that the duo has worked together. In April last year, Murakami directed the music video for Eilish’s 2018 song “you should see me in a crown,” which has garnered more than 69 million views on YouTube. Made by Studio Poncotan, part of the artist’s company Kaikai Kiki Co., the animation portrays Eilish immersed among Murakami’s signature smiling flowers in a Matrix-like universe, with the singer transforming into a monstrous spider at the end. Other joint ventures include their merchandise collaboration with streetwear designer Don C in March 2019, and a cover shoot for Garage magazine in January 2019.

Recognized for his “Superflat” aesthetic and pop-art ethos, Murakami incorporates recurring motifs—namely the KaiKai KiKi sunflowers, color-saturated skull patterns, and various anime figures—with references to history, pop culture, and other aspects of contemporary culture across a variety of mediums. He has worked on numerous merchandise and apparel projects, such as his Louis Vuitton handbag collection since the early 2000s, a Tokyo-based pop-up store with Vogue Japan and Comme des Garçons in 2009, and a footwear collaboration with Vans under the brand’s premium label, Vault, in 2015. In 2020, he teamed up with Supreme to create a fund-raising T-shirt for Covid-19 relief in April. He has also joined hands with sustainable clothing company Pangaia on a four-piece fundraising collection “Bee the Change,” released on May 20, to raise awareness for World Bee Day.

The Eilish-Murakami collaboration is the most recent project of the ongoing Uniqlo T-Shirt (UT) initiative that pairs affordable fashion with art icons. Apart from linking up with Murakami previously in April 2018 for a line featuring motifs from the manga Doraemon, Uniqlo also teamed with KAWS, who reinterpreted Sesame Street characters in his style, last summer for its shirts, as well as collections featuring Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat since 2018.

Charmaine Kong is an editorial intern of ArtAsiaPacific.

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