The fact that Ikea's invading the world of fashion is a little surprising, especially since designers are usually drawing their inspiration from high-brow things like ballet and art. But there it was, Ikea's signature blue tote popping up at Demna Gvasalia's Balenciaga show. According to the Swedish lifestyle emporium's head of design, Marcus Engman, the fact that Gvasalia took cues from Ikea's tote didn't bother him, because there's a fine line between copying and finding inspiration.
"You make something new out of something from the past," Engman explained to Vogue. "And to me, that's not copying."
It wasn't just Balenciaga: There's an entire Instagram account devoted to turning Ikea's Frakta totes into wearable art. And Engman's okay with that, explaining that it's akin to when musicians sample other artists' work to create something new and different. It's especially compelling to Engman because of how democratic Ikea's ethos is. The Frakta bag costs 99 cents, but it's been remixed into a super-luxe leather tote on the other end of the price spectrum at $2,145. Plus, it's not outright copying, which is where Engman draws the line.
"Copying someone else's design is never okay at all," Engman continued. "But at the same time you have this thing going on right now, this sampling and building upon other people’s ideas to make something new and original. I think this is one of the hardest questions in the design world and for us especially: When is it okay to use an Ikea logo and when is it not? We own the logo and so we must give our approval."
Ikea is bringing in a cadre of designers to get in on the collaboration game, too. Virgil Abloh, Byredo, and Chris Stamp have partnered with the superstore. And seeing as how Ikea's low prices aren't often associated with labels like Off-White and STAMPD, whatever the designers produce will be some fashion-world sampling that people can definitely get behind.
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