Wearing Basquiat Artwork
Jean-Michel Basquiat in Modern-Day Fashion Collaborations

An image of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat walking the Spring/Summer 1987 Comme Des Garçon runway show.Image © Comme Des Garçons / Jean-Michel Basquiat walking the S/S 1987 runway show
Rebecca Marsham

Rebecca Marsham, Sales Director[email protected]

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Jean-Michel Basquiat’s estate has long partnered with the licensing and marketing agency Artestar to ensure that his signature imagery, provocative messaging and archetypal symbols would live on for decades. This has made Basquiat a beloved and habitual collaborator with brands at various price points, especially in recent years. Several collections have featured Basquiat's artwork and its distinctly edgy appeal, bridging the gap between art and fashion. These collaborations often involve the use of Basquiat's signature design elements, such as his crown motif, scribbled texts and fragmented images. The popularity of these collaborations is a testament to the enduring appeal of Basquiat’s art and its relevance in contemporary society.


Jean-Michel Basquiat modelling for Comme Des Garçons SS1987 © Youtube
1.

Comme des Garçons

Basquiat’s association with Japanese-brand Comme Des Garçons started while the artist was still alive – he wore the brand often, and walked the brand’s S/S 1987 show only one year before his death. Menswear critic Charlie Porter writes that Basquiat “found his language understood” in the creations of avant-garde designer Rei Kawakubo, known for her interest in the abstract and a disregard for conventions. Almost 30 years later, the brand paid homage to Basquiat by launching a collection featuring his art. The fashion house showcased a collection of eight distinct pieces, including tunics and T-shirts, all of which prominently displayed the complete artwork on the front of each piece and created truly wearable art.

An image of a black shirt covered in white Basquiat symbols and scribbles, by brand Supreme.Image © Supreme x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2013
2.

Supreme

Supreme has become infamous in the streetwear world due to its mass appeal, limited drops and sell-out potential. Their young and urban target audience overlaps greatly with that of Basquiat, so it came as no surprise that their collaboration was a huge success. It included portrait T-shirts, pullover hoodies, M-65 jackets, T-shirts and button-up shirts that are done-up in Basquiat's Neo-Expressionist style. One of the artworks highlighted was Cassius Clay, which paid homage to iconic fighter Muhammad Ali. The brand managed to capture Basquiat’s spontaneous and raw style, preserving this graffiti aesthetic and continuing his legacy as a streetwear icon.

“We have a lot of different stories to tell and we’re looking for a particular customer who has the right fit. Whether we’re talking about pride, social activism or New York City, we look into how the brand can tell their story authentically.”
David Stark, founder of Artestar
A collage of three T-shirts from three different drops that Uniqlo has done in partnership with the Basquiat estate.Image © Uniqlo x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2008, 2009 and 2013
3.

Uniqlo

Famously accessible streetwear brand Uniqlo is no stranger to artist partnerships, often joining forces even with institutions such as the Louvre. Their collaboration with Basquiat has been extensive, dating back to at least 2003. Since then, the brand and the artist’s estate have issued new designs almost every other year, closely maintaining Basquiat’s association with Uniqlo and its consumers. The brand tends to integrate elements of his work such as written words, crowns, portraits and objects in a way that makes the pieces look as if Basquiat had customised them himself.

Their newest collaboration goes further, as they will join Basquiat and Warner Bros. The unique collection will explore the artist’s connection to DC's Super Heroes, as well as Looney Tunes characters that inspired Basquiat as a child and later featured in some of his artworks.

“UNIQLO and Basquiat together have become a truly classic partnership. UNIQLO always comes up with ways to use artwork in their designs that are fresh and new every time.”
Jeanine Basquiat
A collage of three items from Basquiat’s collaboration with Doc Martens, against a yellow and beige textured background.Image © Doc Martens x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2021
4.

Dr. Martens

Doc Martens’ collaboration with Basquiat was initially released in 2020, with a second drop in 2021. On the first drop, the energetic album cover Beat Bop is scrawled across Dr. Martens’ Original 8-eye boots, while the iconic Dustheads is printed on the 1461 shoe. For the second instalment of the partnership, their 1460 boot was printed with Basquiat’s Untitled (1982) across the quarters and sock liner, while the 1461 shoe featured the instantly recognisable painting Pez Dispenser. By taking their classic shoes and reworking into these eclectic designs, Dr. Martens injected new energy into their traditional styles and appealed to an even wider audience than before.

An image of two skimboards lying in the sand, each showing one side of the item. The top features an artwork by Basquiat, while the bottom of the board has the artist’s name topped by a crown and the Saint Laurent logo.Image © Yves Saint Laurent x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2021
5.

Yves Saint Laurent

The year 2021 saw numerous collaborations with the artist. Fashion house Yves Saint Laurent paid homage to Basquiat by releasing ​​a capsule collection to coincide with an exhibition of original Basquiat works in the Saint Laurent Rive Droite stores in Paris and Los Angeles. Works shown at the stores included a silkscreen, 18 original lithographs, several drawings and ceramic plates that belonged to Andy Warhol – blurring the lines between art and fashion even further. The drop featured varied pieces including tote and cross-body bags, a backpack, t-shirts, phone cases, posters and a skimboard and skateboard triptych. The latter items in particular reflect Basquiat’s appeal to a young, urban audience that is interested in these types of hobbies.

An image of several phone and earphone cases offered by Casetify in collaboration with Basquiat's estate.Image © Casetify x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2021
6.

Casetify

Casetify has become a platform where people go to find phone covers that best express their interests and passions. Their 2020 collaboration with Basquiat was done to celebrate ten years since the brand’s inception, and consisted of items compatible with iPhones, AirPods, wireless chargers, MacBooks and Apple Watches.

They specially launched an all new case type featuring Basquiat's iconic Skull printed on canvas, and a new metallic gold coloured case that was designed to highlight his famous Dextrose. The brand’s signature customisable option is available for a biodegradable leather phone case featuring Basquiat's famous Pez Dispenser piece and two matching Basquiat designed power banks. Since then, the collection has expanded and is continuously updated.

"[This collaboration is] rooted in CASETiFY’s DNA to spotlight artists and creatives around the world, and this partnership with Jean-Michel Basquiat—an influential figure to us and so many others—is our tribute to his legacy. Our hope is that this collection inspires a new generation of creatives to celebrate freedom of expression in both art and everyday life."
Wes Ng, Casetify CEO and Co-Founder
An image of a model wearing a black Junya Watanabe suit scribbled in white with motifs by Basquiat.Image © Junya Watanabe x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2022
7.

Junya Watanabe

Junya Watanabe’s Men’s S/S 23 collection chose to highlight iconic 20th century artists including Warhol and Keith Haring, so Basquiat was an obvious choice to complement its garments. The garments incorporate the graffiti style the artist was renowned for, and his scribbles over a white shirt or a pair of shorts make it look as though Basquiat had used it as his canvas. There is also a contrast, one that Basquiat was so attuned to, between suits and the Street Art aesthetic of his work. In this way, we can see how Basquiat remains a fashion icon beyond his works.

An image of three models of sneakers from the collaboration between Reebok and Basquiat.Image © Reebok x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2009
8.

Reebok

Reebok’s collaboration with Basquiat was an enduring one, beginning in 2009 and lasting for five years. It featured classic Reebok silhouettes of sneakers such as the Classic Leather, Workout Mid, and Ex-O-Fit, all decorated with Basquiat’s signature artworks. It also featured T-shirts and jackets, in line with his accessible and relaxed aesthetic.

The line aimed to channel Basquiat’s bold messages and attitude, and propelled the new age of collaborations between the artist’s estate and fashion brands.

An image of a model wearing a T-shirt from the collaboration between “Off-White” and Basquiat.Image © “Off-White” x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2018
9.

"Off-White"

Virgil Abloh’s “Off-White”' has come to exemplify streetwear fashion in the second decade of the 21st century. In the collection, which featured T-shirts, hoodies, trousers and tech accessories, signature Off-White stylistic themes meshed within Basquiat’s aggressive brushstrokes. There is great contrast between the brand’s matter of fact designs and Basquiat’s expressive technique and subjective messaging.

The designer’s urban touch perfectly complements that of Basquiat, creating a true dialogue between these two artists.

"Jean-Michel Basquiat is an important link to a downtown New York culture and an American Artist that laid the foundation for Off-White to exist today. The collection celebrates that fact."
Virgil Abloh
An image of three models of sneakers from the collaboration between Converse and Basquiat.Image © Converse x Jean-Michel Basquiat 2021
10.

Converse

In yet another collaboration from 2021, shoe brand Converse partnered with Basquiat’s estate to update three heritage Converse staples: the Skidgrip, Chuck 70, and Chuck Taylor All Star acted as black canvas for three Basquiat works – Kings of Egypt II, Kings of Egypt III, and Pez Dispenser – all done using different techniques that display the artist’s versatility.

The collection also offered a customisable experience, featuring one of Basquiat’s most recognisable symbols. Customers could choose to place either the artist’s iconic crown or Untitled (World Famous) on the uppers of the shoe, providing the impression that these had been modified by the artist himself and, in the spirit of his work, allowing for greater self-expression.

Basquiat’s legacy in the fashion world is exemplified by his distinctive style and by the powerful messages that it conveys. His influence on all levels of fashion design is evident in the numerous collaborations and collections featuring his artwork. However, Basquiat's legacy extends beyond fashion, and serves as a reminder of the importance of self-expression, activism and the need to challenge obsolete societal norms. The intersection of art, fashion and social activism, as embodied by Basquiat, is a crucial one that will surely continue to be explored and celebrated in future years.

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