Popular Designs are Inspired by Ukiyo-e Prints from the Museum’s Renowned Holdings of Japanese Art
Collaboration Continues UNIQLO’s 10-Year Partnership with the MFA
BOSTON (April 25, 2022)—The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), and global apparel retailer UNIQLO have brought back the Ukiyo-e UT Graphic T-Shirt Collection, inspired by ukiyo-e woodblock prints from the Museum’s preeminent holdings of Japanese art. Ukiyo-e, which translates to “pictures of the floating world,” was a genre of paintings and prints popular in the 19th century, which drew their subject matter from Japanese landscapes and the cosmopolitan fashions and entertainments of Edo (modern-day Tokyo). This popular UNIQLO collection—developed in collaboration with the MFA—incorporates designs from works by three ukiyo-e masters, including the legendary Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji series by Katsushika Hokusai, landscapes by Utagawa Hiroshige and depictions of heroes and monsters by Kuniyoshi.
This distinctive collection brings the vibrant tones and bold lines of ukiyo-e prints to everyday wear. The specially developed graphic tees—offered in seven styles—are part of UNIQLO’s UT (UNIQLO T-Shirt) line, which transforms T-shirts into canvases of art and self-expression through an array of authentic cultural content from around the world. The items will be available online at UNIQLO.com and will be sold in select UNIQLO stores globally starting Monday, April 25. New designs will debut later this year, featuring additional works from the MFA’s renowned collection of Japanese art. This collaboration builds upon a 10-year partnership between the Museum and UNIQLO—a longtime supporter of arts and culture—that was established in 2017.
“Our continued partnership with UNIQLO supports the MFA’s mission of bringing art and culture into everyday life and increases access to the MFA’s renowned collection of ukiyo-e prints. We are thrilled that a broader audience can experience and enjoy art through fashion,” said Debra LaKind, Senior Director of Intellectual Property and Business Development at the MFA.
“We are proud to continue our partnership with the MFA with this exciting UT collection, bringing the Museum’s renowned holdings of Japanese art to life through the canvas of a T-shirt,” said Nick Grover, UNIQLO Director of Brand Partnerships. “The Ukiyo-e collection reflects UNIQLO’s origins from Japan and our longstanding interest in the arts, and we look forward to introducing the collection to both museum-goers and UNIQLO customers alike.”
UNIQLO worked with the MFA’s curators to select designs from works by Hokusai, Hiroshige, and Kuniyoshi drawn from the Museum’s collection of more than 50,000 ukiyo-e prints—among the largest and finest in the world. Ukiyo-e prints were mass-produced commercial products; the artist was only responsible for drawing the design. Wooden blocks—one for each color, in the case of color prints—were carved by professional block cutters, and prints were made from the blocks by professional printers. Ukiyo-e thrived during the Edo Period (1603–1868), when the repertoire of subject matter depicted in the prints expanded greatly. In addition to portraits of fashionable women and popular kabuki actors, landscapes and historical prints became major subgenres. Members of the public were enthralled by the colorful and highly detailed works, and successful designs sold thousands of impressions.
The designs in this collection are based on prints by three of the greatest ukiyo-e masters:
- Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), most famous for his iconic work Under the Wave off Kanagawa (The Great Wave); he was known as the “Old Man Mad about Painting” and depicted nature from towering Mount Fuji to tiny flowers
- Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858), who captured the natural beauty of the Japanese landscape; his works later influenced Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet
- Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861), is most famous for his warrior prints, showing great heroes from the history of both Japan and China battling either other warriors or supernatural monsters
As part of the collaboration, the MFA and UNIQLO will host a virtual learning event on May 7 at 2–2:30 pm EST, during which participants can learn the basics of ukiyo-e woodblock printing through a demonstration with artist Stacy Friedman. At-home instructions are also available at mfa.org/artathome.
UNIQLO and the MFA
UNIQLO became part of the Boston community in the fall of 2015 at historic Faneuil Hall. Five additional store openings followed, including a location on Newbury Street. Since the launch of UNIQLO’s partnership with the MFA in the fall of 2017, educators from the Museum have hosted a range of art-making activities that are free and open to the public at the company’s stores throughout Massachusetts. UNIQLO additionally supports a variety of programs celebrating Japanese art and culture at the MFA.
About UNIQLO LifeWear
Apparel that comes from the Japanese values of simplicity, quality and longevity. Designed to be of the time and for the time, LifeWear is made with such modern elegance that it becomes the building blocks of each individual’s style. A perfect shirt that is always being made more perfect. The simplest design hiding the most thoughtful and modern details. The best in fit and fabric made to be affordable and accessible to all. LifeWear is clothing that is constantly being innovated, bringing more warmth, more lightness, better design, and better comfort to people’s lives.
About UNIQLO and Fast Retailing
UNIQLO is a brand of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd., a leading Japanese retail holding company with global headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. UNIQLO is the largest of eight brands in the Fast Retailing Group, the others being GU, Theory, PLST (Plus T), Comptoir des Cotonniers, Princesse tam.tam, J Brand and Helmut Lang. With global sales of approximately 2.13 trillion yen for the 2021 fiscal year ending August 31, 2021 (US $19.4 billion, calculated in yen using the end of August 2021 rate of $1 = 109.9 yen), Fast Retailing is one of the world’s largest apparel retail companies, and UNIQLO is Japan’s leading specialty retailer.
UNIQLO continues to open large-scale stores in some of the world's most important cities and locations, as part of its ongoing efforts to solidify its status as a global brand. Today the company has more than 2,300 stores in 25 markets including Japan. In alphabetical order, the other markets are Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, U.K. U.S. and Vietnam. In addition, UNIQLO established a social business in Bangladesh together with the Grameen Bank in 2010, and today there are more than 15 Grameen-UNIQLO stores, mostly located in Dhaka.
With a corporate statement committed to changing clothes, changing conventional wisdom and change the world, Fast Retailing is dedicated to creating great clothing with new and unique value to enrich the lives of people everywhere. For more information about UNIQLO and Fast Retailing, please visit www.uniqlo.com and www.fastretailing.com.
About the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Founded on February 4, 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), stands on the historic homelands of the Massachusett people, a site which has long served as a place of meeting and exchange among different nations. The Museum opened its doors to the public on July 4, 1876—the nation’s centennial—at its original location in Copley Square. In 1909, the MFA moved to its current home on Huntington Avenue and today, the Museum houses a global collection encompassing nearly 500,000 works of art, from ancient to contemporary.
Open five days a week, the MFA’s hours are Saturday through Monday, 10 am–5 pm; Thursday, 10 am–5 pm; and Friday 10 am–10 pm. The Museum is located at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. For more information, call 617.267.9300, visit mfa.org or follow the MFA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.