That’s largely why the two brands synced on an apparel collection for spring 2019 that will feature and draw inspiration from the prints of Malin, who has continued to find success in collaborations with brands that have helped his own business expand beyond framed prints and into home, accessories and other categories.
“We navigate the water of collaborations I always like to say very authentically,” Malin said. “It has to have some sort of authenticity for it to make sense.”
Malin’s first collaboration was in 2012 with men’s brand Orlebar Brown for a collection of swimwear incorporating his prints.
“It really taught me how powerful photography could be,” he said. “It went from two-dimensional on your wall…and how photography could become a 3-D, wearable piece of art as well.”
Malin has gone on to launch a coffee table book called “Beaches” in 2016 that became a New York Times bestseller and last October collaborated with luggage company Away. He also sells iPhone cases, coasters, travel pouches, candles and other items in his online shop. Although the framed prints are still the business’ bread and butter, Malin said, the other products serve as gateways into the brand, making the process for selecting partners to collaborate with an important one.
“It all has a story, but the key to the Gray Malin brand is authenticity and I think that’s what makes us really stand apart,” Malin said. “It’s more than a photograph; it’s a lifestyle. We push the limits of how photography can be more than a photograph but a larger lifestyle and it’s really fun. It’s great to continue to challenge yourself.”
Malin’s latest collaboration with Splendid provided an interesting challenge because it’s a women’s brand, the photographer said. At the prodding of his staff, he looked into the label and felt it the right fit with the picturesque, aerial shots for which he is known.
The collection launches at Coterie and is priced from $78 to $188 for women’s knits, wovens and swimwear. Splendid is also set to release a few men’s pieces within the Gray Malin collaboration. The items will be sold through Splendid stores and its online shop. The company was unable to confirm distribution beyond that as of press time.
“Splendid does such comfortable clothing, but really polished and my artwork I’d say is also very comfortable, but also polished and it felt really appropriate,” Malin said of linking with Splendid.
Malin’s image of a Waikiki, Hawaii, beach and umbrellas shot at the Italian Riviera were selected for the collaboration and interpreted in embroidered umbrellas and stripes as references throughout the collection rather than the more obvious route of transferring prints onto garments.
“I can’t wait for our audience to see this,” he said. “It’s the kind of thing where I know they’re going to be really moving the needle on photography. It’s much more than printing on fabric; it’s an entire world of a wearable getaway.”