Every season, a lot of items appear on the runway which are embedded with art. Each and every piece of art is chosen especially by the designer and so carries with it a hint of their strong willpower, and behind each piece exist the history and stories of each artist and brand. These pieces are special in that they were born out of the resonance of both art and fashion. It would be unfortunate if people were to wear them without realizing this fact. If you know the background behind an item, it will help you love the brand and the designer even more. We would like you to realize the joy of wearing these objects by learning about art through these objects of high fashion.
Futura is one of the most popular artists in the fashion world always receiving a multitude of offers. Recently, he impressed by spray-painting the runway to be used by LOUIS VUITTON, and collaborating with OFF-WHITE and COMME des GARCONS. In the past, spray paint was considered something illegal, so how has it grown to become an art with its own status, to be used by the pinnacles of the high fashion world? Let’s take a look back into the flow of time and the history of Futura.
Futura, born in New York in 1955, was inspired by artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring and the graphic artists working the New York subway system, starting his own activities in the seventies. However, after an accident involving fire while spraying a graphic with a friend in 1974, his friend ended up carrying a large burn wound. He turns away from graffiti for a while joining the US Marine Force, but returns to the field in 1978. Working among the Subway School scene which was active in the subways, he developed his own style and starts to stand out within the scene. In the eighties his role models, Basquiat and Haring, started being appreciated in the art world, which lead to the scene expanding more than before. While also doing work with The Clash designing their album covers, he starts working with paint on canvas and starts being praised by the general public himself, but after the exhibition by Basquiat and Warhol, the market started to shrink once more.
In the nineties, Futura started a design studio, GFS, together with Stash and Garb. Afterwards, Garb quit the team and with Blue joining the team as a new member, they start a new design studio/brand called BSF (AKA: Project Dragon), which continued until Blue’s untimely death. Amongst all this, Futura happens to meet James Lavelle who was working for the English label MOWAX and joins him on a tour to Japan in 1995. Here he has some crucial meetings with people like Fujiwara Hiroshi, NIGO and Takahashi Jun and starts being recognized in the country for his collaborations with BAPE. In 1998, the brand name BSF is changed to RECON, and Futura starts the new brand FUTURA LABORATORIES in addition to his personal art activities. Laboratories, as the word says, was a place for Futura to try out a lot of different designs while also being a new venture for an artist to start making his way into the fashion world. Art is an area of consumerism only available to a specific group of people, but apparel is something that people from many layers of society can accept, which is something he might’ve felt when in contact with the Ura-Harajuku culture.
Afterwards, he started collaborating with a lot of different brands as an artist, but the times really start to change after Virgil Abloh became a designer for LOUIS VUITTON. Virgil, having experienced the street culture in Ura-Harajuku for himself, asks Futura to perform a live spraying session at the runway for the 2019 Fall/Winter LOUIS VUITTON collection. Later, they also collaborate for Virgil’s own brand, OFF-WHITE, and a colourful variety of graffiti pieces are used in various parts of the collection. This was the moment that the activities that Futura and other people had been doing since the nineties were found worthy by the big fashion houses and also started a new chapter in the history of street art.
Not all of the above-said people and activities should be set in the same category, but the fact that street art, which was seen as illegal on some fronts at the time, was finally being appreciated because of the efforts of the old guard. Here, art was combined by Futura and the others with the Ura-Harajuku culture into something closer to home and afterwards combined with Virgil, who had been influenced by the same culture, to high-end fashion. Beyond that, the graffiti scene, pioneered by Basquiat, Banksy and KAWS, all of whom had been active since the eighties, have been making the news over the world these years.
Text_ SHUHEI HASEGAWA
Photo_ SHOTA YUHARA