The relationship between street art and fashion has not always been the happiest of marriages. Although it experienced a honeymoon period, the relationship has, at times, looked as though it was heading towards the divorce courts.
Fashion is an industry that thrives on being provocative, unexpected and at the cutting edge. Sounds just like street art. It makes sense then that these two artistic forms have merged to create graffiti inspired fashion collections on the catwalk. The start of this collaboration came in 2001 when Louis Vuitton bags began popping up covered in neon yellow and pink graffiti font.
Whereas the relationship may appear harmonious, there is an undercurrent of sourness within the street art community. Graffiti and urban art has a rawness to it. It is unconventional and subversive. Street artists are only just coming to terms with their art form becoming main stream and are uncomfortable at the gentrification of their work. Banksy would not appreciate yummy mummies doing their weekly shop at Harrods whilst wearing his designer gun toting panda stencil t-shirts.
KIDULT is a street artist who abhors the fashion world. For years, he has been vandalising the shop fronts of some of the top fashion names. In 2012, he targeted the front of a Marc Jacobs store with the enormous tag ‘ART’. Jacobs response was to take a photo and pop it on a t-shirt, selling each one for over $600. Hardly the response that KIDULT was after.
Other street artists do welcome the fashion industry into their world. Mr Brainwash has designed the store front of Hublot’s Miami boutique and created a limited edition range of Ray Bans. Is he selling out? Many artists are critical of his stance especially after other fashion houses such as Moschino have been accused of using the work of street artists without permission.
Fashion relies on trends. At the moment street art is ridiculously on trend and the fashion world cannot afford to pass up the opportunity of tapping into this part of our popular culture. Whether the relationship between street art and graffiti will survive is yet to be seen.