When Arty Met Selly

8.28.2014

By Max Berlinger

The rise of the pop culture-inspired fashion collaboration

Above: BC (3549), 2011 | Photo by Robert Wedemeyer, Courtesy Sterling Ruby Studio

Over the past decade, we’ve seen more and more style mavens teaming up for strategic partnerships — or “collaborations,” to use fashion parlance. The benefit therein is undeniable: When a cool kid like Alexander Wang pairs off with a superstore like H&M (Alexander Wang x H&M hits stores November 6), it’s obvious that both parties will reap the rewards. But while the most common of these alliances have been between high-end brands and mass-market retailers with a global reach, an interesting subset of the collaboration has emerged this season: one that emphasizes fashion’s ongoing love affair with the arts.

Movies, music, and the visual arts have always served as major influences for designers, and now a trio of hookups proves that this romance is far from over. Belgian tastemaker Raf Simons recently called on his friend, the Los Angeles–based artist Sterling Ruby (above), to create the paint-flecked, oxidized prints featured in his critically applauded fall/winter 2014 collection.

On the cinematic front, the e-commerce site Mr. Porter is releasing an exclusive 60-piece assemblage of bespoke tailoring pieces that will mirror the costumes in the comic book–inspired spy flick Kingsman: The Secret Service, out in October. Meanwhile, that jaunty hat–loving polymath Pharrell Williams continues his path to world domination with a flashy, flavorful new retro collection with the streetwear brand Adidas Originals. Whoever said that art and commerce don’t mix clearly never saw the singer’s hand-painted Stan Smith sneakers.

Photo credits: Courtesy of Raf Simons.

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