Anyone wearing French graffiti artist MIST’s art on one of multimedia fashion brand Tango Hotel’s basketball shorts or t-shirts is certain to get stares. In one of Tango Hotel’s Instagram posts, the brand featured the quote: “People are going to stare. Make it worth their while.” It’s near impossible not to linger on the multicolored swooshes and swirls of MIST’s canvases. It’s the kind of graffiti that undulates in front of your eyes. “I’ve always been interested in letters and characters, and sketching makes you evolve fast if you stay focused,” MIST said of his style. MIST creates canvases you can lose yourself in.
“I’ve always been interested in letters and characters, and sketching makes you evolve fast if you stay focused.”
But with his recent partnership with Tango Hotel, MIST is taking his work off of the canvas and onto articles of clothing. The collaborative collection offers several different t-shirts, nylon shorts, and even skateboards and basketballs printed with MIST’s colorful “wild style” designs. Though the most well-known wild style artists are in New York and Philadelphia, MIST has been credited as one of the most prominent wild style artists in Europe, putting a new spin on the Paris art scene. “The game has changed in the graffiti world,” MIST said. “I’ve always been discreet with graffiti because we had to be, it was underground. But now we have to make our own advertising.” For respected graffiti veterans like MIST, the social media age dramatically changed their relationship to their work, since a pressure to market that didn’t exist in the golden age of graffiti now looms over everyone in the arts. MIST’s collaboration with Tango Hotel is one means of organically marketing the art form of graffiti through a partnership with fellow creatives.
“Not everybody can afford a 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000-dollar painting. Here, we’re bringing something that’s more than just also screen printed graphic piece of art. It’s actually wearable art,” Tango Hotel vice president Saul Cattan said.
“Not everybody can afford a 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 40,000-dollar painting. Here, we’re bringing something that’s more than just also screen printed graphic piece of art. It’s actually wearable art,” Tango Hotel vice president Saul Cattan said. Tango Hotel’s origin with fashion design, fine art, and skating uniquely positioned it for partnerships with graffiti artists like MIST.
“Every time Richard, Albaseer, and Stevie would go away, they would fly on Tommy’s jet, and the pilot would say the military alphabet phonetics: tango, hotel, TH818 ready for takeoff. And so, that became synonymous with living the dream, living that permanent vacation lifestyle.”
The collaboration with MIST also features Tango Hotel’s signature cabana shorts, which Cattan described as a “permanent vacation vibe.” Cattan continued: “What Tango Hotel does differently is that it merges the luxury ‘permanent vacation’ aesthetic with graffiti artists who have real street cred. Cattan referred to graffiti legend John Matos, better known as CRASH, as one of the “mentors” for the company.
“I’m older now, so younger artists can influence me, too, though,” he explained.
MIST mentioned CRASH as an influence as well. “I’m older now, so younger artists can influence me, too, though,” he explained. This openness to new ideas and transparency is a value Tango Hotel and MIST share. Many brands wax poetic about inclusivity and equity while charging hundreds of dollars for a tank top, but Tango Hotel walks the walk. Their approach to artist-fashion collaboration also reflects the growing acceptance of graffiti as a fine art, given that alongside CRASH and MIST, the company also released a collection with renowned abstract artist Wassily Kandinsky and Cattan expressed admiration for Patrick Nagel, most known for his distinctive Duran Duran cover art.
Graffiti, in its purest form, is a public assertion of the artist’s identity. No one needed to pay to see graffiti. The advent of the internet forever changed the nature of street art as the line between public and private life further blurred. The contemporary role of the graffiti artist is an ongoing conversation in the community. Though the internet created certain drawbacks for artists, brands like Tango Hotel are working to use online commerce to boost artists’ profiles and introduce new viewers to their work. Besides, wearing a piece of art is inherently different than viewing it. The wearer develops a new and complex relationship to the work when it stays on their body whether they’re at a bar or at the gym.
“It’s awesome to be an artist, but every artist I know has a different approach and it’s a twenty-four hour a day job,” MIST said. “I’m a big fan of Tango Hotel.”
More than ever, artists feel pressure to turn their work into a personal brand and act as their own public relations manager. Tango Hotel cuts out the middleman and allows the artists it works with to sell their passions through a creative lifestyle brand. “It’s awesome to be an artist, but every artist I know has a different approach and it’s a twenty-four hour a day job,” MIST said. The Tango Hotel x MIST collection can be bought here with all pieces available excluding the skateboard, which is sold out. Judging by Tango Hotel’s success so far, though, that piece won’t be the last to sell out.