Inspired by katagami stencil from the museum’s collection of Japanese art, there are eight T-shirt designs for women and seven for men. The artsy items are being sold in Uniqlo stores and through its e-commerce site, as well as through the MFA Signature Shop. This launch builds upon the 10-year partnership both parties formed last year.
Hand-carved from paper with intricate designs, katagami stencils are traditionally used to dye cotton, silk or other textiles for Japanese garments. MFA curators worked closely with Uniqlo to select patterns from the Museum’s collection of 4,200 katagami stencils, most of which were brought to Boston by William Sturgis Bigelow, who was one of the first Americans to live in Japan. Bigelow played a key part in establishing the Japanese collection at the MFA, which now totals nearly 100,000 objects in all genres. The Uniqlo-MFA collaboration makes its debut 108 years after the MFA held an exhibition spotlighting katagami stencils — not only as tools, but also as works of art in their own right.
A launch party is set for Aug. 24 at Uniqlo’s Newbury Street store, where guests will be able to check out a display of katagami artwork and stencil tools from 19th-century Japan, courtesy of the MFA’s archives. Museum staffers will also be on hand to lead an art-making activity, providing guests with stencils inspired by Japanese textile dyeing to print on postcards.
An advocate for the arts, Uniqlo has a robust alliance with the Museum of Modern Art through its SPRZ NY, the retailer’s design project that blends art and fashion. Over the years the retailer has stamped the work of a slew of well-known artists like Takashi Murakami, Jean-Michel Basquiat and K.A.W.S.
This spring the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and UNIQLO extended their ongoing partnership. In addition to Free Friday Nights, joint exhibition projects and educational lectures on contemporary art and fashion at Garage’s lounge zone on the third floor of the Uniqlo Atrium are planned.
Other museums are also fastening ties with fashion brands and designers like this summer’s Mike Eckhaus’ and Zoe Latta’s exhibition, “Eckhaus Latta: Possessed” at the Whitney Museum of American Art and next year’s “Virgil Abloh,” the first show dedicated to the work of the new Louis Vuitton creative director at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. Through Jan. 16, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History is presenting “Oh You Fancy! Black Hair & Fashion,” a group exhibition of featuring the work of B Michael and 20-plus other designers.