Daniel Arsham, the essential fashion artist, launches his own brand
LONDON – Daniel Arsham has become an art star with a concept he calls “fictional archaeology”, using materials like sand, selenite crystals and volcanic ash to transform objects from the recent past into eroded relics of the past. a lost civilization. Populating its postmodern Pompeii are icons of pop culture and consumerism – from Ninetendo’s Game Boy to Pokémon characters to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off Ferrari – recast as timeless artifacts.
This approach has helped make Arsham fashion’s go-to artist. Over the past five years, the multidisciplinary designer – whose work spans art, architecture, design, film and performance – has collaborated with Dior, Tiffany, Rimowa, Adidas and Uniqlo, often lending their products the gravity of geological time, as well as a limited edition buzz.
Now Arsham is launching her own fashion label, Objects IV Life. Her first drop, a collection of unisex workwear, will land today at Kith’s Parisian flagship and online. The clothes reflect Arsham’s personal style. “Things that I would wear in the studio,” he said. “I designed them for me.”
Fashion brands regularly partner with artists to elevate their brands. But Arsham’s projects stand out for the way they seamlessly unite art-world credibility and mass appeal.
Arsham, who was born in Cleveland and raised in Miami before moving to New York, is often compared to Virgil Abloh. His work is both high-concept and intentionally accessible. It is sold by streetwear emporium Kith as well as top notch gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin. “Art is for everyone,” Arsham said. “I try to create a diverse range of prizes.”
Equal parts artist and entrepreneur, Arsham is a savvy marketer. He is friends with celebrities like Jay-Z and Pharrell, and performs well on Instagram, where he has amassed 1.2 million followers, making him one of the most popular artists on the platform. In 2020, he became the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first-ever creative director.
“Tradition and modernity are things we try to marry and Daniel helps us do that,” said LVMH scion Alexandre Arnault, who commissioned Arsham to create Rimowa suitcases and Tiffany boxes in his signature style. “Also, he’s very powerful on social media and being part of that conversation has been a success for us. He’s helped us reach new customers.
The new brand is a joint venture with Tomorrow, a London-based brand accelerator, which provides investment and access to shared services, from production to distribution, to a stable of emerging labels including Martine Rose, Loverboy by Charles Jeffrey, Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer’s. A-Cold-Wall by Coperni and Samuel Ross.
It was Ross who first introduced Tomorrow CEO Stefano Martinetto to Arsham. Martinetto was looking for new perspectives to grow his portfolio and saw an opportunity to harness Arsham’s vision and achieve the power of a new brand, informed by the artist’s own wardrobe, the reduced palette of neutrals and pastels of his sculptures (Arsham is, in fact, colorblind) and the possibility of using dead animals.
Arsham was not a fashion designer, but Tomorrow contestants had found success backing non-traditional creative directors. New Guards Group’s most famous designer, Virgil Abloh, started out as a fashion underdog. The group also launched a line with DJ Peggy Gou. Meanwhile, Comme des Garçons has teamed up with Gosha Rubchinskiy and Honey Dijon.
In late 2019, Arsham and Martinetto formed a joint venture (Arsham owns the IP) and began building a small but skilled team that includes Tomorrow’s head of development, Julie Gilhart, the former design director of Acne Studios, Matthew Grant, and former Burberry merchandising director Judy Collinson. .
The brand’s first “chapter” is classic without being boring. The collection includes functional jackets, jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. There’s also a utility boot, cap, canvas tote bag and key ring. Everything is made in Portugal, New York and Los Angeles, with custom hardware sourced from Italy. Both the denim and the tote are made from dead animals. Prices range from €180 for a graphic T-shirt to €850 for a utility jacket.
Distribution is also split between direct-to-consumer and a handful of retail partners, including Selfridges, Ssense and Kith. Drops will be tied to real-world seasons, as well as art events. The team has already developed second and third “chapters” inspired by hiking.
“The opportunity is huge,” Martinetto said. “The audience is really wide, from serious collectors to children.” Martinetto believes the brand can evolve to compete with cult designer labels like Jacquemus, Dries Van Noten and Ami. “It’s not a fad project,” he said.