Review of Fred Perry Gorillaz Spring 2021 Collabrative Program by Creative Director of Agency X with Photographer Y with models Z
Fred Perry has unveiled a special collaboration with everybody’s favorite virtual band, Gorillaz. In addition to being a unique and exciting celebration of the intersection of fashion and music, it sends a subtle yet urgent political message of inclusion and intersectionality.
The members of the iconic British cartoon band don their favorite colorways of the brand’s iconic shirt, a mainstay of British fashion and subculture since its introduction by its eponymous creator and tennis star in the early 50’s.
In addition, each band member did a brief Q&A and created a Spotify playlist – a brilliant way to connect with fans – and did a special interview with the label. A collaborative capsule is set to follow soon.
The artwork from the campaign went big on digital, billboards that is, as the international supergroup was seen sporting the iconic shirt on digital billboards in London’s Picadilly oversized billboard and Tokyo’s kinetic Shibuya district.
“My first Fred Perry shirt wasn’t actually mine, it belonged to Arthur Ashe. Like a cross between Barack Obama and Denzel Washington… he was an artist… he had style, he had an afro, he wore a pair of tiny shorts – and, of course, the classic Fred Perry tennis shirt.
– Russel Hobbs, Gorillaz drummer
Fred Perry’s iconic tennis shirt has played a multifaceted role in British (and recently, American) musical and political subculture. Many beloved musical icons, most notably the late great Amy Winehouse, have sported the style – but at the same time, it has unfortunately been co-opted by far-right hate groups.
In the mid ’60s, Fred Perry was embraced by young working class men in London as a brand favored for its smart aesthetic at affordable price tags. Fans of ska, rocksteady, and rude boy style music, which was introduced to them by first-generation Jamaican and Barbadian Brits, carved out a distinctive look which fused available items with influence from the style of their new friends and neighbors. Sadly, the skinhead white nationalist subculture would develop out of this scene a few years later, and take on a distinctly anti-labor and anti-immigrant sentiment, which developed into full-on neo-Nazism.
The style spread to similar groups in the United States in the wake of Reagan’s election, and recently, the black and yellow version of the shirt became the unofficial uniform of the Proud Boys. Crucially, Fred Perry made an explicit statement condemning the co-opting of the style by this hate group, and has pulled the colorway from North American markets.
This new collaborative campaign with Gorillaz forms another important push to reclaim the sense of inclusivity and intersectional community that the piece first came to represent. With its wide range of international collaborations and progressive political outlook, the band is an excellent choice to embody this spirit – and they do it with virtually impeccable style.
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