Kenzo has been recognized for using tiger on some of its most iconic designs. Inspired by the French fashion house's archives, the print first reappeared in the Fall 2012 collection and has since become the brand's official iconography.
Looking at its history, it is only natural for the brand to be involved in a unique collaboration with Tiger Beer and WWF to raise global awareness around endangered wild tigers with the hope of educating the society and changing their mindsets. The three decided to team up in creating a one-of-a-kind collection called Rare Stripes.
Kenzo’s current co-creative directors Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, alongside Tiger Beer, personally invited four young global emerging artists in helping create the limited-edition graphics for Rare Stripes. As it is a topic that hits close to home, Kenzo and Tiger Beer have decided to partner with a roundup of artists that represent countries where tigers' livelihood has become a huge issue. First off, there's contemporary artist and sculptor Meryl Smith from USA who is known for celebrating the beauty of animals and nature in her works.
In true Kenzo fashion, the other three artists come from Asian countries. They are illustrator and designer Esther Goh from Singapore, illustrator and printmaker Julienne Tan from Cambodia as well as digital artist Sean Lean from Malaysia. Kenzo has previously been praised for breaking new ground in Asian representation in fashion industry when the brand cast an all-Asian models at Paris Fashion Week last year.
The capsule itself is nothing short of visionary. The artists got their inspirations by listening to first-hand accounts of the plight of wild tigers from a Wildlife Specialist. Using real tigers tracked and named by the WWF as their subjects, all artists daringly incorporated each of their personal style into the designs. The range—which includes sweatshirts, jacket, hoodie and T-shirts—is elevated by expressive illustrations highlighting the tigers and their distinctive markings. Transforming basic pieces into fun and bold wearables, one doesn’t have to squint hard to spot the traces of Kenzo as well. With a color palette that is dominated by blue and orange “just like a tiger who uses its stripes to blend in with the nature,” the visuals work wonders as patterns and colors are matched effortlessly.
The animal behind the icon is so much more than a symbol. Dedicating an entire collection to wild tigers as a way to prevent extinction is a one step in the right direction. As Sean Lean, one of the artists for the project, said, “I hope by contributing my work as an artist, I can be part of the solution.”
Coming from a country in Asia where endangered wild tigers are a personal matter, I am in awe of the young artists from neighboring countries whose works are featured internationally, and how they are able to translate their creativity and ideas into tangible materials that are part of a larger initiative in supporting wild tiger conservation. It is truly mind-boggling to see that art can transform the sadness in a story into a beacon of hope for many.
The collection is already available at Kenzo's official website and select retailers, and 100% of the proceeds will go to WWF. Buy the sweater, save the tiger.