Uniqlo tapped Marvel for the theme of its T-shirt contest.


Do we need another hero? Uniqlo apparently thinks so.

The Fast Retail brand revealed exclusively to WWD that the theme of its 2018 UTGP, or Uniqlo T-Shirt Grand Prix contest, is Marvel.

“We hope this will inspire artists and fans around the world to participate in UTGP in new and unique ways,” said Rei Matsunuma, Uniqlo director of the UT collaboration business, adding that submissions for the contest will be accepted starting Monday through Aug. 31.

The partnership between Marvel and Uniqlo isn’t a big surprise. Marvel is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co., with which Uniqlo has had a relationship since 2009.

“Magic for All,” Uniqlo’s partnership with Disney, will introduce three new collections online and in select stores. Mickey Travels, with designs based on the early Mickey Mouse short film, “Steamboat Willie,” and comic strips from the Thirties, bows on July 31. Besides tote bags, makeup bags and graphic T-shirts, there are sweatshirts, sweaters and souvenir jackets with designs such as Minnie Mouse with a Japanese volcano framed by cherry blossoms, on the back.

The Disney textile collection for babies and children is launching next month. Cathy Nordstrom designed patterns with characters such as Bambi and Chip and Dale in a soft color palate. The last new range, Mickey Stands, depicts the iconic mouse, yes, standing like in earlier cartoons.

Even UTGP was themed around Mickey and Minnie in 2011, when the grand prize in addition to $10,000, was a trip to Disneyland resort in California. Of course.

This year, heroes are trending. Sony’s film “Spider-Man: Homecoming” has taken almost $300 million worldwide since it premiered in early July.

“We’re very excited about how accessible Marvel is to people around the world,” Matsunuma said. “There are so many amazing pop culture phenomena each year and it’s our goal at Uniqlo to create amazing collections for all of them, whether for UTGP or our seasonal UT assortment.”

Uniqlo launched the UTGP competition in 2005 to encourage people to express their creativity through T-shirt graphics and messages.

Marvel’s characters include Spider-Man, Avengers, Iron Man, Doctor Strange and Captain America.

“All of Marvel’s characters, including fan-favorite women like the Black Widow or Jessica Jones, can be applied in the designs,” Matsunuma said. “Also, at the recent D23, [expo presented by the official Disney fan club], Marvel announced that the new ‘Avengers’ movie will have 70 different characters in the film. We hope this will inspire artists and fans around the world to participate in UTGP in new and unique ways.”

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