Actress Scarlett Johansson wears a Creative Growth for Everybody T-shirt… (From Creative Growth for…)
Although the L.A. label Creative Growth for Everybody has been around for the better part of two years, I hadn’t had a chance to check it out firsthand until last week’s trip to the Las Vegas apparel trade shows, where it was an especially refreshing change of pace from the superficiality of both Sin City and the overall fashion business.
Co-founded by Joel Knoernschild (who also has his own line, KZO) and Stella Ishii, founder and president of the News fashion showrooms, the line of art-driven men’s and women’s cotton T-shirts, tank tops, 3/4-length raglan sleeve tops, slouchy sweatshirts, hoodies and sweatpants bear screen-printed or embroidered images chosen by Knoernschild (who is also the line’s creative director) from works created by the artists at Oakland’s Creative Growth Art Center, a nonprofit that serves adult artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities.
Royalties from each sale go directly to the artist and a portion of proceeds goes to the Oakland organization, a total amount Knoernschild estimates to be in the neighborhood of $55,000 since the collection’s Spring 2010 launch.
Part of that traction can be attributed to the impressive list of fashion-forward retailers that snapped up the very first season -- not just high-end department store Barneys Co-op, but trendy boutiques across the globe including Ikram in Chicago, Colette in Paris and Ron Herman in Los Angeles. (Current stockists also include London’s Dover Street Market and Isetan Tokyo.)
But the bigger reason is the truly one-of-a-kind works of art Knoernschild has chosen to grace the garments, images and words that utterly lack the kind of faux irony, pretentiousness and calculated snark that graces most of today’s graphic T’s.
The heartfelt slogans and whimsical line drawings relay a rare sense of unfettered honesty that is hard not to smile at. One women’s tank top depicts a pair of red sunglasses framing an alligator. Above the drawing are the words “alligator sunglasses” (by artist John Martin). A men’s T-shirt has a drawing of a hand throwing the heavy metal devil’s horn sign (pinkie and index finger extended) with the words: “long live metal” (by Nick Pagan).
One standout piece from the Fall 2012 collection that’s currently in stores is a T-shirt screenprinted with the artwork of Ray Vickers, the words “the Misunderstood,” rendered in fluffy, letters that seem simultaneously sculptural and cloudlike at the same time.
That also happens to be the same T-shirt actress Scarlett Johansson -- a fan of the brand -- recently donned for a troika of photos to help acquaint the world with the line, a move that, given the resulting images, will most certainly have the desired effect.
Knoernschild and company expect to introduce between six and 14 new works of art by the Creative Growth Art Center’s artists each season. Among the eye-catching creations in the pipeline for Spring 2013 – and on display at the recent ENK trade show in Las Vegas – were a T-shirt bearing the words “you are what you look at first thing in the morning – you!” with most of the words drawn inside a triangle and the last few connected by a playful arrow just outside (center photo, art by Zach Houston), and another T-shirt with multi-colored block lettering that declares: “Do not bother me do my work” (bottom photo, art by Edward Walters).
Retail prices for the designed-in-Oakland, made-in-L.A. line run from $58 to $83 for T-shirts and tank tops to $122 sweatpants and $124 to $162 for sweatshirts, available online at the Creative Growth for Everybody website, which also includes a list of local bricks-and-mortar boutiques.
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Photos: Center and bottom photos of Spring/Summer 2013 T-shirts by Creative Growth for Everybody bearing artwork by Zach Houston (top) and Edward Walters (bottom). Credit: Adam Tschorn / Los Angeles Times