Family-friendly Japanese clothing brand UNIQLO has announced that they will be releasing 24 new shirt designs as an official collaboration with Pokémon next month. However, this isn’t your typical company-to-company collaboration. Each shirt design has been submitted by an independent designer as part of the “UT GRAND PRIX 2019” competition. People from all over the world were openly invited to submit their custom designed shirts with their own art on them for a chance to win the grand prize of $10,000 USD. Additionally, the first place design, a geometric style Gyarados and Magikarp shirt designed by an artist from China, will be featured as a wearable item in the latest Pokemon game, Sword and Shield.
Submissions for shirts were accepted between October 2018 and December 2018. Out of 18,000 entries from over 40 different countries, a team of three in-house judges whittled it down to just 24 entries to have printed and sold in stores. The judging team was made up of Pokémon Co., Ltd. President Ishihara Tsunekazu, Gamefreak Inc’s Managing Director Sugimori Ken, and NIGO®, UT’s Creative Director. It’s crazy to me that they were able to decide on just 24 shirt designs out of the thousands and thousands that were submitted.
The second and third-place designs are also receiving special merit. The second place design, won by a Japanese artist, pays homage to the classic Unknown Pokemon, organized as an eye test. The third-place design, featuring a fresh and fun illustration of some tropical-looking Pokemon, was won by an American artist. My favorite shirt in the series, designed by an artist from the Philippines, happens to be the purple one with a large artwork of a bunch of dark and ghost type Pokemon looking mischievous and intimidating.
UNIQLO has been hosting design competitions in collaboration with a variety of brands, including Marvel in the past. Keep an eye out if you would like to participate in the next one! The Pokémon shirts will be available at UNIQLO from June 24, 2019, for around $15 USD a piece. You can check out all of the winning designs on UNTGP2019’s official site.