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MoMA Taps Fashion Merch Opportunity for 'Items' Exhibit

Fashion's most familiar products have been reimagined by designers including Rick Owens, Issey Miyake and Ralph Lauren for a collection that will be sold alongside the museum’s upcoming exhibition.
MoMA collaboration pieces L-R: Armor-Lux shirt, Swatch watches, Issey Miyake turtleneck | Source: Courtesy
By
  • Megan Doyle

NEW YORK, United States— How do you begin to reimagine fashion's most familiar garments? Issey Miyake, Ralph Lauren and Rick Owens were up for the challenge. They are among ten designers collaborating with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) Design Store on a range of products in honour of the museum's upcoming exhibition "Items: Is Fashion Modern?" Curated by Paola Antonelli, over 100 fashion artefacts from the 20th and 21st century will be on display from October 1.

Swatch, Mary Katrantzou and Marni are also among the brands to have put their spin on classics like the black turtleneck, the Breton shirt, Ray Ban aviators and the Champion hoodie. The turtleneck, for instance, has been redesigned by Issey Miyake.

The MoMA Design Store will create a concept space in the museum that will sell just one product at a time, to highlight the significance of each piece, for a two to three-week period only. A full product assortment will be available at the 2nd floor Museum Store and MoMA's Design Stores for the duration of the exhibit.

“We want to highlight the iconic, epic quality of each product. So you can go one week and see nothing but a baseball cap in the space, and your friend might come three weeks later and see only the Breton shirt,”says Chay Costello, associate director of merchandising at MoMA. “It’s all part of the iconic designs making a statement in and of themselves.”

On developing the product offering, Costello continues: “We met with the brands to talk with them about their history, what the original version was, who was designing it and why it was designed, who used it and who uses it now. It was a collaborative effort where we really wanted to educate ourselves about the history and the current role of these products in the world, before deciding on what we were going to do.”

The scale of the exhibit is another milestone for MoMA. “It’s the first fashion-related exhibition at the museum since 1944, so it’s going to be very momentous.” says Costello. It's also an additional revenue stream for the museum, driving traffic to the gift store and increasing customer spend far beyond sales of a souvenir postcard. “These collaborations are an opportunity for people who go, and have an epiphany about fashion and it’s role in design, to take a token of that home with them.”

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