The next time you buy a T-shirt from GU, the casualwear sister clothing company of Japanese no-frills label, Uniqlo, it could be a design that was created in Singapore.
Local design studio Somewhere Else has designed a range of graphic T-shirts in collaboration with the Japanese fashion retailer. GU has always been on the lookout for global creative talents, and this time round, they were interested in collaborating with graphic designers.
Somewhere Else was proposed as one out of three local design studios by The Largest Continent (TLC) a local fashion/lifestyle consultancy.
TLC works with +81Creatives in Japan, which services Uniqlo and GU, and which are on the constant look-out for global creative talent for their next T-shirt range and marketing campaigns.
Singapore has always been on the +81 Creatives radar.
Previously, the firm started out with a collaboration between Uniqlo and Singaporean fashion designers, such as Gilda Su. Soon after, +81Creatives were keen to work with graphic designers for GU's collaborative launch with global designers.
Out of the three design companies that TLC recommended from Singapore, Somewhere Else was picked for its unique point of view.
Somewhere Else is the only Singaporean studio to be chosen for this collaboration alongside international studios from France and Japan. This is the first time that the four-year-old design firm's works are distributed on a large scale, in 295 Gu stores across Asia.
"I'm absolutely thrilled to have this opportunity, seeing that we are a yet-to-be-established studio," says Ng Yong, founder of Somewhere Else.
"It was an unexpected but exciting project, and this is the first time our work has been distributed so widely and in multiple markets. Hopefully, this collaboration can pave the way for similar projects to come."
Mr Ng says, "The brief given by GU is almost all-embracing - to develop a set of graphics in line with their direction of text, in addition to photography."
He adds that he had free rein to work around these parameters and took the chance to express the Somewhere Else studio and what it stands for.
The T-shirts come in four different graphics and each in three different colours. "Further" which features a stretched custom typeface, captures the studio's attitude about always wanting to move further and beyond the status quo.
"Raconteur" is softer and more abstract, summing up what the studio hopes to do more of in the future. "Dharma Bums" is a reference to Jack Kerouac's novel about seeking balance in the midst of energy and chaos, which Somewhere Else aspires towards. For the T-shirt "Tomorrow", the graphics are made of abstract shapes, and the lettering is ambiguous - like what tomorrows usually are.
"Each design presents a word that seeks to capture the ethos of Somewhere Else," says Mr Ng. "There is also quite a fair bit left for the viewer to interpret on his own; you can't make out with exact certainty what the photos are of. Each shirt is therefore unique in terms of what the wearer sees in it."
He had only a "couple of weeks" to create the designs. Each T-shirt retails at JPY690 (S$7.50), and is available on the GU online store. Somewhere Else's other projects include creating brand identities for clients such as Archifest, Blueprint and Food For Thought.
"For GU, the team just went out to have fun with the project. We needed to make sure that our designs would be unique, but still relatable to the GU audience," says Mr Ng.
This article was first published on June 13, 2015.
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