The upcoming collaboration between Disney’s Pixar and Vans which is based on the beloved Toy Story franchise has seemingly struck a perfect balance between those who wear a specific piece for its pleasing aesthetic, and those who rely on the strong novelty and nostalgia associated with the film to solidify making a purchase.
While no one would be surprised to hear that Vans has made several collaborations in the past – including one that celebrated this fine publication’s 10th anniversary – many would be rather shocked at just how many notable partnerships Disney has cultivated in the last six-plus years.
Rather than pick out the 10 best, we present an expansive look at Disney’s connection to the world of fashion.
Disney x XLarge
As far back as 2008, Disney was looking to up its profile in the streetwear sector by teaming with Japan’s XLarge on a T-shirt combining both brand’s trademark characters including Mickey Mouse and the XLarge gorilla.
Disney x KIKS TYO
Shinichi Izaki’s company, KIKS TYO, linked up with Disney for a range of T-shirts that featured iconic Disney characters including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Beegle Boy.
One T-shirt in particular, “DJ Mickey” seemed to best embody the spirit of streetwear at the time which was a mix of loud graphics, bold color choices, and hip-hop hints with notes of Lot 29 sensibilities thanks to the aforementioned streetwear brands ties to the Looney Toons, Taz, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Yosemite Sam, Wyle E. Coyote and Marvin the Martian.
Disney Bloc 28 x Nemesis Project
Realized on a 24-inch BMX frame, the collaboration between Disney’s Block 28 – an arm aimed at reimagining Disney characters by notable artists like Rime, Ewok, Aroe, Suiko, Tenga and Chaz Borjoquez – and Bradford Hodges’s Nemesis Project bike brand relied on thinking about what Mickey Mouse’s own two-wheeler would look like.
Highlights of the build included laser cut Mickey “cross gloves” patterns for the seat and chain stay spreaders, custom one-off Disney Bloc-28 Pivotal seat, NOS gumwall 24″ Tioga comp 3’s, Skyway Tuff wheels, custom powder-coated Macneil BMX Conjoined cranks and KAPPA Sumo bars.
Disney x Ubiq
In celebration on the 1928 debut of Mickey Mouse who turned 80 years old in 2008, Disney enlisted a number of entities to pay homage to the gloved icon – resulting in a collaboration with Japanese footwear brand, Ubiq.
Working together on their Fatima silhouette – which at the time was also reworked by artist/toy designer Jun Watanabe – the result was a leather silhouette with a mesh inner boot and a printed lining of Mickey’s many facial expressions that was presented in a monochromatic colorway to pay homage to Mickey’s days when he was devoid of technicolor.
Disney x The Hundreds
Following a year of lengthy negotiations in which they tried to convince Disney brass to allow them to “Hundreds-ize” some of their beloved characters by interjecting various subcultures that define California youth lifestyle, the Los Angeleles-based brand finally managed to get the green light with a project centered on The Lost Boys from Peter Pan.
In speaking about the genesis of the collaboration, co-founder Bobby Hundreds wrote, “The Lost Boys have always been a metaphor for The Hundreds. If you recall, they’re the ragtag set of mischievous kids who spend their days fighting pirates and defying age with the rest of Neverland in the Peter Pan story. Likewise, The Hundreds is exactly that, we’ve always felt forever young as long as we continue to live off our dreams. Fighting pirates, authority, corporate or bootleggers, however you may interpret that.”
Depicting characters like Curly, The Twins, Tootles, Nibs and Slightly – and a Tinkerbell T for women – the collection also featured a New Era cap with a stitched feather on the side as a nod to the Peter Pan universe.
Disney x Etnies Plus
Right on the heels of the official debut of their collection with The Hundreds, Disney and Etnies unveiled two silhouettes of their Upsetter silhouette dubbed “The Evil Lord” and “Mickey Mouse” with only the faintest traces of Disney branding.
Disney x Supreme
Released as part of Supreme’s Fall/Winter 2009 offerings which included an eclectic mix of headwear, outerwear, T-shirts and desert boots – as well as strange collaborations that would become hallmarks for the brand including a Buck Knife and Bicycle playing cards – Supreme also featured Mickey Mouse on a raglan pullover and T-shirt.
Disney x NEIGHBORHOOD
Debuting as part of their Fall/Winter 2009 collection called “W.D.W.Y.F.W.,” – an abbreviation steaming from the Vietnam War conflict where it took on the meaning, “We Don’t Want Your Fucking War” – NEIGHBORHOOD and Disney introduced a collection with two characters synonymous with the brand: Mickey Mouse and the Big Bad Wolf.
Produced on T-shirts, raglans and selvage denim, there was also a bandana that featured a new intricate play on the traditional paisley print.
In subsequent months, Shinsuke Takizawa’s imprint would also produce a number of Disney-themed figures which celebrated the brand’s 15th anniversary.
Disney x rehacer
Known primarily at the time for their subtle details and outdoor-inspired collections, Japan’s rehacer got in on the Mickey Mouse bandwagon with a collection that coincided with its own seventh anniversary.
To match the attributes and sensibilities of the label, rehacer presented Mickey with beadwork and Native American patterns.
Disney x CLOT x Madsaki
At the time, one of the most classic patterns in streetwear – which predated the paisley craze that would come several years later – was the Alienegra camouflage print which was created by CLOT and artist, Madsaki.
Produced on a range of Mickey Mouse T-shirts as part of CLOT’s ongoing retail project with Disney, Man Is In The Forest, it served as a major precursor to the Mouse’s work with BAPE camouflage elements later on.
Disney x CLOT
Favoring hints of Mickey Mouse’s gloved hand rather than an entire depiction of the beloved character, CLOT celebrated its sixth anniversary with a range of T-shirts featuring their “hang loose” graphic that also represented the number six in Chinese culture.
Disney x Vans
Opting for the Sk8-Hi as their preferred silhouette, 2010 marked the initial partnership between Disney and Vans.
Rather than opting for something that was coded or overly-clever, the shoe features straightforward Mickey Mouse branding and a clear stripe and midsole print reading, “When things get tough Mickey Mouse goes into action!”
Disney x Undefeated
Almost a full year before Tyler, The Creator introduced himself to the masses with “Yonkers,” Undefeated and Disney marked their capsule collection together with a strong seasonal lookbook featuring Odd Future adorned in Undefeated graphics with simple Disney accompaniment like Donald Duck, Goofy and Huey, Luey and Duey in various winter-based sports that spanned headwear, T-shirts and fleece.
Disney x Stussy
If there was one major complaint to be had about Disney’s earliest collaborations, it’s that either they or their partners were intent on only using the most recognizable characters like Mickey Mouse.
However, Stussy opted for a much more underutilized character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, whose 26 legendary silent films were made by Walt Disney himself from 1927 through 1953.
In 2005, Japan went wild for the forgotten cartoon star after an arcade claw game, UFO Catcher, being stocking its machines with Oswald merchandise which was not available at regular retail outlets.
Disney x BLACK COMME des GARÇONS
Coming in white, black and grey, the collaborative crewneck T-shirts featured the iconic Mickey Mouse head in a black silhouette with a small BLACK logo on the lower back.
Disney x Cityfellaz
Copenhagen-based Cityfellaz opted for a similar strategy as Stussy by incorporating a lesser known Disney entity into their collaboration, Peg-Leg Pete – who was originally created in 1925 and predated Mickey Mouse by three years – while also infusing Mickey’s original likeness from his Disney debut.
Tokyo DisneySea x BAPE
In 2012, Tokyo’s DisneySea resort recruited BAPE for a series of T-shirts, hoodies, bags, pouches and small accessories that all featured its prominent camouflage motif.
Disney x Moleskine
Although it may seem like people are begging to get Disney executives on the phone to engage in collaboration talks, it’s actually Moleskine who has proven to be the more selective partner over the years – collaborating with known entities like Coca-Cola, LEGO, The Beatles, Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, Star Wars, Batman and more.
Decorated inside and out with Mickey’s iconic image, this notebook also included a drawing guide so that owners could actually create their own Mickey Mouse.
Disney x Vans Vault
An array of Disney-themed prints adorned six different styles of the Sk8-Hi and Authentic LX silhouettes that were sourced from designs that were originally created by Vans alongside Disney in the early 1980s with recognizable Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Winnie-the-Pooh imagery.
Disney x Neff
On the same day that Neff dropped a surprising capsule with Disney that celebrated the 1928 iteration of Mickey Mouse on T-shirts, hoodies, hats and watches – and announced Tilly’s as the official retailer – Kanye West was on a serious radio tour in NYC in promotion of his Yeezus tour where he ultimately got into a notorious screaming match with Sway Calloway on his SiriusXM show.
Many people questioned Disney’s choice of retail partners. Specifically, how they had allegedly dismissed West’s desire to work with them in favor of a lessor known entity like Camarillo, California’s Neff.
“I met with the head of Disney eight times and his response was ‘Your brand doesn’t fit our brand,'” West told Angie Martinez on Hot 97 that same day.
Disney x Del Toro
Presented in a dual colorway that was either awash in purple and green accents with subtle character imagery at the heel that was inspired Goofy’s signature piece of headwear, or a more straight forward monochromatic rendition, Del Toro’s Alto Chukka joined Vans as a Disney footwear partner.
Disney x COMME des GARÇONS SHIRT
Applying their rebellious axioms to some of the Disney’s iconic imagery following a 2011 partnership, the “Camo” capsule collection from COMME des GARÇONS SHIRT was comprised of a panel T-shirt, a regular T-shirt, and a poplin dress shirt that featured an all-over Mickey-infused camouflage print.
Disney x the POOL aoyama
Spearheaded by Hiroshi Fujiwara and the JUN Group (the owners of uniform experiment and SOPHNET.), retail venture the POOL aoyama marked its April opening with a fruitful collaboration with Disney on a three-piece release that depicted Mickey Mouse swimming on a crewneck sweatshirt and hoodie, and diving on an all-white T-shirt.
Disney x SOPHNET.
SOPHNET. not only included a Disney/Mickey Mouse reference on their 2014 Summer Flag Tee, but they also hinted at the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil which was scheduled to begin a week later with regional representation for the host country, England and the United States.
Disney x LIFUL
Korean brand LIFUL was but another brand to turn to Mickey Mouse for a range of items clad in Breton stripes, polka dots and color-blocking on puzzle pattern T-shirts, mesh football jersey and hats.
Disney x Neff
Eschewing Disney characters with noble and heroic connotations, Neff instead decided to focus on the “Villains” inside all of us – specifically pulling from notable Peter Pan foil, Captain James Hook.
“Disney is something I think everyone can relate to [and] have a memory about.” said Neff CEO, Shaun Neff. “This concept came up in just a brainstorm sesh. Basically, we’ve done a lot of stuff with Neff and Mickey. Kinda the challenge we wanted to take upon ourselves is how can we create and put Disney in a different light. We came up with this whole concept of the ‘Villains Collection’ based on how a lot of times the villains don’t get the love. It’s all about the prince that saves the day.”
Disney x COMME des GARÇONS
To say that Disney’s Frozen was a smash hit would be an understatement. The film earned $1.2 billion USD worldwide only a year after it was released and also became the fifth-highest-grossing film of all time and by far the highest-grossing animation.
In 2014, Disney partnered with COMME des GARÇONS for shirts, pajamas, scarves, tote bags, pocket squares, and even home decor such as pillows emblazoned with Frozen’s main characters that were flanked by Rei Kawakubo’s signature polka dots.
According to Adrian Joffe, CEO of COMME des GARÇONS and Dover Street Market, the collection happened quite organically.
“Disney Japan approached us and we jumped at the chance,” he said.
Disney x On the Byas
In an attempt to marry lifestyle brand On the Byas’s plant/floral imagery with Star Wars, the two reached a logical compromise where each was well-represented – resulting in jerseys, crewneck T-shirts, tanks and shorts where classic franchise characters like Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Stormtroopers and Ewoks are dispersed amongst Birds of Paradise-esque motifs.
Disney x Uniqlo
For the ”Mickey Plays” collection, Disney and Uniqlo crafted 12 graphic print T-shirts which featured the iconic Disney character in various action poses that mimicked the exploits of sports icons and brand ambassadors, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori, Shingo Kunieda and Adam Scott.
Disney x Vans
Following their successful partnership in 2013 – and a shared history tracing back to days of yesteryear in Southern California – Disney and Vans once again teamed up for a six-piece offering entitled the “Young at Heart” collection which paid homage to some of Disney’s most beloved characters.
Highlights included a reimagined a Classic Slip-On and Sk8-Hi adorned with such characters as Mickey Mouse, Winnie-the-Pooh, Donald Duck, Pluto, Goofy and Minnie Mouse.
Disney x Herschel
The first partnership between Disney and Canadian accessories brand, Herschel Supply Co., saw the two working with one of Disney’s most iconic characters: Winnie-the-Pooh.
Drawing from the spirit of adventure that enchants the inhabitants of the Hundred Acre Wood, each piece featured a cascading illustration that portrayed Winnie-the-Pooh tumbling through an abstract daydream alongside his close friends Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and Rabbit. Key details also included pebbled leather zipper pulls that were detailed with Winnie-the-Pooh’s distinctive colors.
Disney x Porter
As one of the most high-profile acquisitions in recent memory, Disney’s ownership of the Star Wars franchise opened up an endless possibility for additional pieces of merchandise.
Released during the frenzied enthusiasm for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Porter released a tote bag, personal dopp kit, coin pouch, and wallet in white and black which suggested one could take either a Jedi or Dark Side approach to their accessories.
To drive home the point that this was a Star Wars collaboration, the design included an an all-over graphic print with the franchise’s’ most iconic characters and spaceships that was finished with tonal stitching and hardware.
Disney x MOA
The Disney x MOA capsule collection featured casual loafers, lace-up running sneakers, and lace-up tennis trainers with notable attributes including Nappa Leather and Mickey and Minnie Mouse prominently displayed on the exteriors.
Disney x Herschel
Working with established outdoor silhouettes from the Canadian supplier like the Settlement backpack, the Network tote, and Roy wallet, Disney and Herschel presented a deconstructed homage to Mickey Mouse by featuring his most notable attributes: head, bright red pants, gloves and boots.
Disney x Kenzo
To drum up anticipation for the reboot of Disney’s classic, The Jungle Book, Disney partnered with Kenzo for one of the more upscale collections the movie conglomerate has ever pulled off.
Employing archival KENZO prints with elements taken from the drawings from the 1967 original movie, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon delivered a men’s and women’s collection featuring a jungle/tropical vibe that was highlighted by silk shorts that were directly inspired by Mowgli’s iconic costume.
Disney x A Bathing Ape
Coinciding with the opening of BAPE’s Disneytown location in Shanghai which opened in June of this year alongside the Asian marketplace debut of The Cheesecake Factory, and TOMS, they marked the occasion by presenting Mickey Mouse on a set of monochrome tees that also had BAPE’s signature, camouflage pattern worked into the design.
- All Images: Disney / The Brand