As evolutions go, the character on clothes, or “Pictoplasmic chic” is traceable to two monkeys: Julius from Paul Frank and the fierce camo-simian from A Bathing Ape. Hello Kitty, Obey the Giant, and the Scary stories dolls round out some of the high-profilers in this category, and the recent rapid-fire spreading of the “Jesus Is My Homeboy” character from Teenage Millionaire is more fodder for the flame. Now we’re seeing a range of graphic design collectives creating charming to grotesque character toys and limited edition clothes emblazoned with automatons, amorphous shaped effigies, and other moody forms.
Among the most outstanding of the crop include the designs from Cosmic Debris, the company behind Emily the Strange. Wearing the sullen pre-adolescent Emily in her various thread manifestations is a badge of goth-cool across Europe and Australia. Mumbleboy‘s rounded kawaii caricature of an amoeba is flourishing on the streetwear clothes the company puts out. UK-based Noodoll sells Nara-like creatures on T-shirts subversively engaging in naughty acts while the London Police crew designs everything from a limited edition line for DC Shoe to murals at Triple-Five-Soul in New York to snowboards for K2.
In the toy department, Kidrobot, with stores in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, appears to lead the way stateside with a wide selection. They sell Dunny characters (seen at the Dunny Show earlier this year at the Visionaire Gallery in New
York) and toys from Pictoplasma superstars, such as Dalek and Ogi. The store is instrumental in taking the movement from Japan global while creating the ultimate fashion toys in the process. These toys are the theme of the latest Visionaire magazine out this month where ten designers including Marc Jacobs, Hedi Slimane, Miuccia Prada, Karl Lagerfeld, and Viktor & Rolf were asked to dress up character toys to be sold in limited quantities. The Artboyz website out of Stockholm sells the popular Bearbricks/Kubricks lines of commando toys, works from Mist, BJ Bowl, Michael Lau, and others. Gama-Go and Ugly Dolls teamed up for a limited edition line of Ugly Dolls’
widely popular ape-like forms. And the launches of new lines are cropping up everywhere.
How to envision the trend growing up? The convergence of graphic design and fashion seem to be heading the way of high-end designer gear. Eboy, the Berlin and New York-based graphic design wizards are reported to be collaborating with Paul Smith on a new line of clothing for the spring and summer 2005 collection. The collection utilizes Eboy’s trademark pixilated London cityscape on a whole range of fabrics ranging from simple T-shirts to the leather lining of shoes. And it won’t be long before weird colorful toys are spotted on every stylish mantle, and their owners won’t necessarily have children.
Photos: Pictoplasma conference Berlin
Noodoll t-shirt and bag
Visionaire Issue 44
Gama Go for Ugly dolls