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SPRZ NY Takes Over Uniqlo’s N.Y. Flagship

The collection of T-shirts and more with images inspired by artists almost completely occupies the 10,000-square-foot second floor.

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Uniqlo’s SPRZ NY, or Surprise New York, has practically taken over the retailer’s Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street flagship.

This story first appeared in the March 28, 2014 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The collection of T-shirts and more with images inspired by artists almost completely occupies the 10,000-square-foot second floor. A display of T-shirts on the walls and in glass cases fills the mezzanine; rotating mannequins on both sides of the first floor staircase and escalator wear the T-shirts, and the majority of the window space, which consists of dozens of mannequins, is devoted to SPRZ.

A collaboration between Uniqlo and the Museum of Modern Art, SPRZ NY features three mainstay artists, Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who will always be represented in the collection. In addition, Lawrence Weiner, Ryan McGinness and Sarah Morris were tapped. Every visual was vetted by the artists or their estates, as in the case of Jackson Pollock. New artists will be rotated into the mix every three months. Items designated MoMA Special Edition are based on works by these artists from the museum’s collection and new designs made in collaboration with living artists. Each item features a hang tag inspired by or created by the artist.

“We redesigned the whole second floor and mezzanine to make it feel like a gallery,” a spokeswoman said. Along the perimeter of the floor are framed displays of T-shirts and other items. Cards below the displays describe the artist and his or her work. There’s also a digital work of art on the wall for each artist.

Uniqlo added a Starbucks full-service coffee house on the second floor. There are café tables and banquettes for sipping and admiring the “art.”

Uniqlo is launching a microsite for SPRZ NY that provides more in-depth information about each artist. Consumers can log on to the microsite while they’re in the store. An area at the back of the store features a long table with 10 iPads and stools.

The collection ranges in price from $5.90 for a bandana to $49.90 for a Windbreaker. There are also tank tops, shorts, boxers, socks and tote bags with Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans and Haring’s scribbles. “We may add more things to the line,” the spokeswoman said. Polo shirts feature symbols from artists, shrunk down to chest pocket icon size. For example, there’s Warhol’s Velvet Underground banana and Haring’s crawling baby.

“This is our first fashion project,” said Sarah Suzuki, associate curator at MoMA. “We’re aware of our responsibility to represent artists the right way. This is a tremendous commitment of space and effort on the part of Uniqlo.”

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