Robert Graham Creating Wearable Art Capsules for 20th Anniversary

Robert Graham is celebrating a milestone in 2020: its 20th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, the men’s and women’s brand best known for its elaborately printed shirts is creating a series of artist collaborations for the fall/winter ’21 season.

“We’re known as a brand that produces wearable art,” said Andrew Berg, president. “So in honor of our anniversary, we’re creating a Master Artist Series featuring vivid prints and unexpected designs.”

He said the wearable art collections are a “big initiative moving forward for our brand,” and builds on the successful “Star Wars” collaboration the company offered last year. “That opened the door,” Berg said, adding that the performance of that collection “blew away our expectations. Within days, the shirts sold out.”

First up is Brush With Greatness, a collection of pieces based on Post-Impressionism to Pop art works by Vincent Van Gogh, LeRoy Neiman and Ryan McGinness that the brand interpreted by working with the artists and their estates. Robert Graham will create capsule collections for each of the artists and those works will be offered beginning on Nov. 4 with Van Gogh and Neiman. The McGinness collection will come out next year.

Berg said: “The brand’s 20-year legacy, centered around fashion that is meant to be discussed, admired and collected, deeply ties us back to the world of art. That is who we are as a brand. Partnering with iconic artists allows us to officially marry art and fashion and make it our own.”

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On Nov. 10, the brand will offer a collection of shirts, jackets and hoodies based on Marvel and its famous characters including Spider-Man, Black Panther, The Avengers and Iron Man. Originally, the plan was to release the collection tied to the studio’s “Black Widow” action film that was supposed to come out this fall. Because of the pandemic, the movie release was pushed to 2021.

The Avengers shirt. 

Although the association between Robert Graham and Iron Man may seem like a bit of a stretch on the surface, Berg said he expects the brand’s avid collectors to embrace the pieces since they evoke nostalgia among older fans and will also hopefully attract a younger customer. The Marvel series is not inexpensive, however, with T-shirts selling for $78 to $128; button-down shirts retailing for $278 to $598, and a Spider-Man blazer with webbed embroidery selling for $1,298.

Sean Chadwick, vice president of design, said: “This anniversary collection intertwines masterpieces in the art world while celebrating signature Robert Graham design expertise: vivid wearable art prints, tracer embroidery, contrast motifs under the cuff and yarn-dyed details. The art of the detail in the details, is always the unexpected with our designs.”

The wearable art collections will be available at select Robert Graham stores in the U.S., on the web site, at Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus as well as specialty boutiques.

A LeRoy Neiman print. 

Berg said that despite the pandemic — and a bankruptcy filing by its parent company, Centric Brands — Robert Graham continues to move forward and business is holding up.

The brand has created a digital showroom on NuOrder to show its collections to retailers and its sales representatives are visiting stores whenever possible.

Berg also communicated with Robert Graham’s retail customers earlier this month after Centric exited Chapter 11 as a private company with financial support from Blackstone as well as Ares and HPS.

“Throughout this process, we operated seamlessly without interruption and remained focused on serving our valued partners,” he wrote. The restructuring allowed the brand access to additional financing and Robert Graham is now “well-capitalized with access to substantial cash and liquidity. We will also benefit from a supportive new board of directors, a significantly stronger financial position, and a more flexible capital structure that will allow us to focus on executing our long-term objectives.”

Berg acknowledged COVID-19 has been challenging for the industry, but emerging from bankruptcy as a private company has eliminated much of the pressures that the brand had faced in the past. “As a private company, we can focus exclusively on our long-term success. We will also benefit greatly from the support of our new owners. They understand our growth strategy and have a productive and trusted working relationship with our management team. In addition to their financial support, Centric Brands will gain valuable strategic insight, organizational support, global relationships, and other important resources.”

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