Crossover Common: Has Gucci Stepped Into Uniqlo Territory?

Take away that large Gucci label, and it may not even be thought of as Uniqlo merchandise. It could be any brand’s, marooned in Ang Mo Kio Central until it finds a happy shopper. Or, anywhere—including online stores—that hawks unremarkable T-shirts for strictly Peanuts fans looking for a bargain. It is Snoopy charm you can usually buy for a song.

Yet, it’s there in the Gucci rack, sandwiched between other weightier garments that look decidedly expensive. This T-shirt, with a neckline too stretched and a wash too laundered, looks like a bum lost in a Hollywood Hills mansion. In fact, so beat up it is that there are holes in the T-shirt even before they’re worn. You’d think some careless teenager left his T-shirt here! Gucci described it as a “vintage effect”. Could this be something more highfalutin: posh poverty?

Or maybe there’s some irony here that totally escapes us. Something along the lines of the new used? According to Gucci, “Alessandro Michele takes his love for the animal world a step further with a number of styles featuring cartoon animal characters from the Peanuts.” Further, of course, does not have to be upwards. If so, could this indeed be towards Uniqlo’s domain?

What really makes the situation fascinating is that Uniqlo has a practice of working with established cartoon franchises for its UT line. These include mass-recognition names such as Disney and the less-known such as Dick Bruna, the Dutch illustrator behind kawaii major Miffy. The question is, for a cartoon character as common as Snoopy, do we really need to pay a three-figure sum so as to wear comparable cuteness on our chest?

Gucci isn’t the first Italian brand to be enchanted by American cartoon characters. Back in the ’90s, there was Iceberg. And they, too, were Snoopy-mad, putting out Joe Cool tees to popular acclaim. It was then charming because, amid the Italian swank of the era, it was a little cheeky for a European label to adopt American icons. But now that maker of uniforms for urbanites Uniqlo is already into cartoons for all, is Gucci’s take whimsical, or even clever?

Perhaps it’s Hedi Slimane—a name that no one talks about now—who had set the precedent when he introduced those inartistic and wildly expensive T-shirts for Saint Laurent. The because-we-can attitude was in sync with the rising, we-don’t-give-a-shit outlook of Mr Slimane’s followers. There’s nothing cute about that, but that’s precisely why they appeal. Trash the adorable so that you can rock whatever it is that rocks you.

Gucci Snoopy & Woodstock cotton T-shirt, SGD560, is available at Gucci stores. Photo: Gucci