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Swatch: Time for a comeback, company says

The iconic brand again looks to the street for its latest artistic collaboration.

August 02, 2009|Max Padilla

If you were a teenager in the 1980s, you probably wore a Swatch or two or five. And since this decade's designers have been rehashing '80s fashion trends (shoulder-padded blazers, baggy "boyfriend" jeans and wide belts), the timing is right for the Swiss watchmaker to make its resurgence.

Swatch, which made the late graffiti artist Keith Haring a household name, again looks to the street for its latest artistic collaboration this summer. The watchmaker enlisted New York's Billy the Artist and Matthew Langille, along with Europeans Ted Scapa and Grems, to channel the decade's mix of street and sleek for its Artist Collection, which debuted in 1985 and has featured work by Yoko Ono, Annie Leibovitz and Robert Altman.

"Swatch, although iconic, it kind of lost its edge," says Patricia Higgins, brand president of Swatch USA. "With this [collaboration] we're really going back to our roots -- it reeks Swatch, it's what we were known for."

Langille, 27, who also does T-shirt graphics for Marc Jacobs, drafted three designs for Swatch -- Snuggle Bunch, Floating Away and Germaholic -- featuring Haring-esque graphics, teddy bears and primary colors.

Of course, what made teenage girls able to stack Swatches on wrists like bangles was their price. And the watches, still made in Switzerland, are still affordable. The Artist Collection runs $55 to $95. swatch.com

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max@maxpadilla.com

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