Pacsun Continues to Release Clothes From The Met. Why?

The Met's collection of Greek and Roman sculptures served as the inspiration for Pacsun and the Met's fourth collection.

When Pacsun, a company renowned for selling skate and surf clothes in malls, revealed last year that it will collaborate with the Pacsun Metropolitan Museum of Art to develop a clothing line, some responses might be summed up as: Why?

The relaxed West Coast way of life that Pacsun has been associated with since its inception in California in the 1980s appeared at odds with the goals of the Met, a museum on the Upper East Side where seawater may harm the artworks.

Evidently yeah. Pacsun will release a fourth collection on August 25 after collaborating with the Met to create three.

The museum's collection of Greek and Roman sculptures served as the inspiration for the new range, which consists of 25 items with prices ranging from $25 to $90. The goods, which can be purchased in Pacsun shops and online, include a black puffer jacket that is embossed with the Marble Statue Group of the Three Graces ($80) and a mesh long-sleeve shirt that is emblazoned with the Marble Head of an Athlete ($35).

Artwork of New York City landmarks and oil paintings by painters like Giovanni Battista Tiepolo and Vincent van Gogh have been included in merchandise from past collections.

The relationship between Pacsun and the Met is the most recent phase of a bigger corporate shift for Pacific Sunwear of California, which declared bankruptcy in 2016.

The Pacsun design team was asked by the Met to tour several galleries to create the collections.

Pacsun has made an effort in recent years to depart from the kind of sun-dappled pleasure it had come to represent. To connect with its mostly young client base, it is now concentrating on streetwear and employing clothing alliances. Some of these collaborations, such as the line Pacsun created with cult streetwear brand Fear of God, have been more blatant than others, such as its line with the obscene magazine Playboy.

The chief executive of Pacsun, Brieane Olson, praised the company's numerous partnerships, which have included a line with Formula 1's racing powerhouse. "I think that feeling of being surprised that we've done something like this is a real positive," she added.

Streetwear, fashion, and fine art are more and more entwined. In his clothing, the late fashion designer Virgil Abloh frequently referred to the work of Caravaggio, an Italian painter. Off-White, the company Mr. Abloh established, has collaborated on clothing collections with the Louvre in 2019 and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art in 2021.

Like several other couples, Pacsun and the Met were first matched by a third party. According to Richard Cox, vice president of men's and international partnerships at Pacsun, Beanstalk, a licensing firm, established the connection between the apparel manufacturer and the museum.

The Met, which has collaborated with other clothing companies like Champion, according to Josh Romm, head of global licensing and partnerships, said a partnership with Pacsun was appealing because it could give the 153-year-old organization a slight advantage, particularly among the younger demographic that favors Pacsun. It's intriguing now, Mr. Romm remarked.

A third party (a licensing firm) created the mall brand and the art museum.

The Met sent its design team a list of about 1,000 works of art that may be licensed and encouraged them to travel to several galleries to educate the collections with Pacsun.

Stephen Mannello, the Met's director of merchandising and licensing, stated, "We really let them look at what's available in the museum." According to Mr. Cox, Pacsun will not provide the price of licensing artwork.

The clothing in the collections has come to resemble T-shirts from a museum store less and less as the cooperation has developed. (However, a lot of that kind of T-shirt has been made available.) A strapless bustier ($32) and midi skirt ($50) with a light cloud design from New York's Governors Island were included in the third collection, which was based on an etching by John Hill and a watercolor by William Guy Wall.

On a recent Saturday afternoon, the Pacsun in SoHo had the majority of the third collection's items sold out. This collection was introduced in June. On a wall of T-shirts, however, a few errant shirts with van Gogh's 1888 still-life Oleanders ($30) were positioned atop a stack of Aerosmith t-shirts.

A museum visit might be difficult to convince your classmates to go, according to 22-year-old Elon University student Alexander Carnot, whose attention span is geared toward seconds-long TikTok videos. He continued by saying that he regarded the Met's partnership with Pacsun as a means of "bringing in new audiences."

His buddy Ray Kao, a 22-year-old student at New York University, claimed to have observed "a growing sense of alienation from art museums" among individuals his age. The relationship between the Met and Pacsun, according to Mr. Kao, who frequently visits the museum, makes sense because "it pedestrianizes things that are really inaccessible."

Van Gogh T-shirts were on Mr. Carnot's wish list, but he opted against it since the artwork was overrun with text, according to him. Instead, he made his way to the cash registers while wearing a pair of khaki shorts and a purple T-shirt that was emblazoned with a Playboy bunny on the breast.

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