1UP crew are the graffiti collective known for tagging moving subway trains, far-flung parts of the world and nearly all of their native Berlin.
A cursory look through 1UP’s Instagram shows their distinctive (and typically enormous) tag showing up in Mexico, Athens, Rome and areas of Burning Man. It’s unknown how many members there are exactly, and naturally the group are inclined to mysteriousness, but their motivation to spread their message across the world is boundless. Now, in a surprising new collaboration, they’re tagging garms from COMME des GARÇONS.
Shot in Berlin and backdropped by some 1UP street art, peep the tagged denim, white shirts and hooded sweatshirts from the collection below.
Typically, when COMME des GARÇONS collaborate, they do so with a streak of confident experimentation i.e. the CdG x Nike Air Max with the 3D dinosaur embellishments. In today’s ubiquitous collaborative culture it’s easy to forget what this creative process should strive for, which is to see brands elevate the potential of one another with something that meets in the middle.
As fertile spaces for both counter-culture and socio-political commentary, fashion and street art have occasionally found some common ground. Particularly with regards to streetwear, and artists like KAWS and OBEY founder Shepherd Fairey, there have been moments of cross-over between these two worlds. At the luxury end, Marc Jacobs sprayed handbags with graffiti-style prints during his tenure at Louis Vuitton (and later ripped off a graffiti artist’s design) but until now, there has been little yield for a high-fashion/street art collab on a big scale. So why 1UP? and why COMME des GARÇONS?
Similar to 1UP’s tagged train carriages speeding around Berlin, COMME des GARÇONS have transcended the capabilities of street art as an expression of place, identity and anti-authoritarian values. In this collection, a repeated 1UP slogan “Feed The Kids With Garlic and Find Them In The Dark” is sprayed across long white shirts and the instantly recognisable 1UP tag crawls up the back of dark denim jackets. In effect, 1UP have added a new dimension to the traditionally static form of street art, meanwhile COMME des GARÇONS continue to erase the boundaries between art and fashion.
It’s not the first time the brand have dabbled into the world of grafitti though. For SS18, founder Rei Kawakubo presented “Multi-dimensional Graffiti” in Paris. Dramatic and critically lauded, the nitrous silver colors that formed around the cloud-like structures of her garments certainly recalled the associations of an aerosol spray paint can.
Aesthetics aside, graffiti and street art culture probably appealed to the DNA of COMME des GARÇONS on a more conceptual level. There’s an abundance of great quotes from Rei Kawakubo, but one in particular, “for something to be beautiful…it doesn’t have to be pretty” (and it’s true) reflects the urbanised grittiness of dropping a quick throwie on the wall of a delapidated building. The inherent rebelliousness of graffiti, as well as its ties to self-expression and playfulness, strike the same chord as the ethos of COMME des GARÇONS making this collaboration feel as genuine as it is provocative.
- Photographer: Ahmed Chrediy / Highsnobiety.com