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The Met and PacSun Team for Art-inspired Hoodies

In another example of the continued commercialization of art museums, PacSun has linked up with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to roll out a capsule collection that draws inspiration from paintings from the late 19th century.

The co-branded range is the first in a series with PacSun that is part of the museum’s licensing efforts in partnership with global licensing agency Beanstalk, which represents The Met in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Japan. It is not part of a larger multibrand initiative, according to Morgan Pearce, The Met’s general manager of marketing, brand partnerships and licensing merchandising.

Hoodies that borrow from Vincent Van Gogh aren’t new terrain, but the hook-up is a new path for the California-based chain. Billed as The Study of Fine Arts: Highlights From The Met Reimagined by PacSun, the fall and winter assortment features 30 basics, including T-shirts, socks and sweatshirts — florals and landscapes are integral to the mix. It is part of a one-year deal, according to according to Richard Cox, vice president of men’s merchandising at PacSun.

To ensure that the original works did not get lost in translation, PacSun designers worked closely with museum staffers. The unisex range borrows from the works of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Henri Fantin-Latour and Van Gogh. Launching Thursday, The Met-inspired designs are being sold through PacSun’s 200 stores and its e-commerce site.

Streetwear can increasingly be found in major museums and cultural institutions and the category has been a serious moneymaker in some situations. Last year, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston unveiled a ”Church & State” pop-up retail experience to link with its exhibition ”Virgil Abloh: Figures of Speech.” That assortment featured exhibition-specific apparel designed by Abloh and limited-edition styles from his Off-White brand that were produced exclusively for the ICA. The merchandise was so popular that the pop-up was extended until nearly the end of last year even though the exhibition wound down in September 2021. The ICA generated about $2 million in retail sales from the pop-up with some of the proceeds earmarked for Abloh’s estate and “a huge amount” going to the museum, according the ICA’s director of retail Liz Adrian.

With “Figures of Speech” on view through Jan. 29 at the Brooklyn Museum, limited-edition Off-White styles are helping to ring up sales through the “Church & State” shop. Shoppers can find apparel and accessories including a $3,360 square-patterned leather tote bag — a hefty purchase compared to typical gift shop fare. A $550 slim-cut hoodie has sold out online.

PacSun’s museum-inspired designs are more affordable, with accessories retailing from $14 to $28 and apparel in the $30 to $80 price range. The brand was keen to partner with The Met, given its cultural relevance, influence of art on fashion, the breadth of artists’ work on view and the attention-grabbing Met Gala, Cox said. PacSun’s targeted demographic is increasingly looking to discover art and art museums, as evidenced by their interest in Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and others, he said. “They are looking for other ways to express themselves creatively outside of brands. Art speaks to them in different ways whether that is creating the art, taking art in or in this case wearing art,” he said.

PacSun did not have to make a financial donation to the museum, Cox said.

Asked if The Met is speaking with other brands about similar ventures, Pearce said via e-mail, “The Met is in conversation with a range of partners across various categories, all of which further The Met’s mission to bring art to the day-to-day lives of consumers around the globe. The goal of our program is to find intuitive ways to inspire and delight customers across all demographics.”

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