KAWS definitely wasn’t created today; all of us have seen the skull with a cross-eyed look that is the most cherished icons, such as Snoopy, Mickey Mouse and The Simpsons. In addition, its references to pop culture brought to life all the essences and zeitgeists from the past and present, but its connections to fashion houses and entertainment brands have made into the KAWS brand into an iconic brand.
The most recent time the dedicated KAWS x Uniqlo relationship launched an all-new collection that includes UT graphic t-shirts in partnership with Sesame Street.
The event took place a few days after KAWS was heavily mentioned on the Dior Homme spring/summer 2019 runway show, a well-thought-out decision due to the fact that it was the creative director Kim Jones’ debut collection for the house.
The expansion of KAWS could pose an issue for consumers, who may therefore be enticed to buy the brand without having a clear knowledge of what it means. That raises the question what is the reason everyone is competing for a piece merchandise that has a connection to KAWS? And, if so the case, are KAWS actually democratic (i.e. easily accessible to anyone to purchase) or is it just another band of limited edition-ness that jacks up the cost of products and clothing?
A professional illustrator, Brian Donnelly is the person who is behind the cross-eyed mask. In the 90s, New York City was coated with advertisements and took up a lot of the city’s physical space, which could have been used for street art as canvas to paint. Instead of resigning to back alleys or beneath bridges Donnelly was known to “deface” bus stop and billboards and create characters such as The Companion, Bendy and The Accomplice, aswell with the nickname KAWS.
If you’re curious about the meaning behind the name “KAWS” doesn’t really mean anything else than the letters that Donnelly thought, when put together, which he thought was appropriate visually. Similar sentiments also seem to be applicable for his skull-based characters. The artist has said on numerous occasions that he wishes for that his character be universal that they’re immediately recognizable to the people who watch his work regardless of their culture.
There are some who believe that KAWS isn’t as literal as it appears; The Companion, for instance, is prone to have its image covered up with its face, which exposes an identical cross on its back hands. A skull-like figure gripping its hands across the face, revealing its “death” does not seem like a great idea at all, to begin with.
This exposure gave Donnelly the chance to create a tiny collection of toys in partnership with Japanese clothing brand Bounty Hunter, which became famous collectibles. The price range was between $50 and 100 when the line first came out, the figurines will now be selling at 10 to 20 times the price they were originally sold for.
KAWS, the name Donnelly might have assumed, proceeded to sign deals with some of the most well-known names in the world of entertainment. Toys such as his collection tested his abilities since he could not work only in two dimensions and pondering form led him to think bigger and bigger, like thinking the possibility of building an 15-foot (about 4.6m) taller model that resembled The Companion.
Since 2004 KAWS was scouted to collaborate with various hip-hop artists, most particularly Kanye West for the album cover for Heartbreaks and 808s and also designed footwear designed for Nike as well as Marc Jacobs, collaborated with fashion labels A Bathing Ape, Comme Des Garcons, Undercover, and Vans mixing up characters from the TV show The Smurfs, Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, Spongebob Squarepants, Family Guy, the Michelin Man and The MTV Moonman Video Awards… just to mention just a few.
Beyond the home run he hit in a variety of areas of fun, KAWS was a sensation with the 14-foot inflatable in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012 in New York. It marked the first occasion that he’d made it into the mainstream Many who had seen the parade didn’t recognize him at the time.
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One common thread that appears to have been running through KAWS in his career is the conflict between establishment and social commentary. Can it be possible or appropriate for someone who’s work is all focused on subverting popular culture to also gain privileges that come with it? Is it possible to argue that it’s essential to be part of the establishment in order to influence it?
Perhaps KAWS could be the Vetements (it’s simply clothing) in the contemporary art world. It’s interesting to observe that the same critique of KAWS is also a part of the lives of his predecessors. Think of Jeff Koons or Keith Haring who’s styles are so well-known that it’s not a good idea to question their fame.
In an interview in a recent interview with Complex, KAWS explains his goals to Uniqlo, “I felt like I needed to take action to be more open and honest level.” In the absence of anything else, the goal of democracy is a beautiful thing that we all can be grateful for. The attention-grabbing projects he’s been working on with Dior Homme and Uniqlo UT are proof of his creative and commercial acclaim However, in the overall world of things it’s just the beginning of his legendary career.