Shoppers fight for KAWS shirts at a Uniqlo in Jinhua, a city in China's Zhejiang province, on Monday.
Culture

KAWS x Uniqlo: Why Chinese shoppers traded punches and stripped mannequins for limited-edition shirts

Jun 05, 2019

Chinese shoppers darted past security, traded punches, and even stripped mannequins of their clothing at Uniqlo stores across the country on Monday, just to get their hands on limited-edition KAWS shirts.

The collection, a collaboration between the Japanese fast-fashion brand and American artist KAWS, included 12 adult T-shirts, six for children, and three bags selling at about $15 each.

But thanks to the artist’s huge popularity, the KAWS pieces are resold online for as much as $115.

In China, one viral video showed shoppers racing into a Uniqlo store as the security gates went up at opening hour on Monday.

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Some went down on their hands and knees to get in quickly. Another video showed two men brawling as the store opened.

Once inside, shoppers rushed to the racks with KAWS designs. Some grabbed entire packs of clothes.

One video showed a young man holding onto a pack of T-shirts for dear life as other shoppers tried to snatch the garments from him.

A shopper removes a KAWS shirt from a mannequin at a Uniqlo in Jinhua, a city in China's Zhejiang province, on Monday.
A shopper removes a KAWS shirt from a mannequin at a Uniqlo in Jinhua, a city in China's Zhejiang province, on Monday.

Another shopper was seen climbing onto display stands to strip a T-shirt from a shop mannequin, leaving the model without arms after claiming his prize.

Although shops asked customers to buy no more than two KAWS shirts or bags of the same color and pattern at once, the stock was snatched up within 10 minutes of opening time in some shops.

“Many raced each other and crawled into the store,” a shop assistant was quoted as saying. “It was spectacular. I’ve seen big promotion days and this could be compared to that.”

What’s with the hype?

One customer told Beijing Youth Daily that the resale value for KAWS shirts was so high that Monday was his best chance of getting one at retail price.

Uniqlo’s collaborations with renowned artists and designers such as Alexander Wang have been extremely popular.

The limited-edition runs are coveted because of their scarcity, and because their prices are still within the fast-fashion range.

 

 

Last week, KAWS said on Instagram that the latest collaboration with Uniqlo would be their last, making the shirts especially coveted.

The previous two KAWS x Uniqlo collections also saw lines flowing out the door.

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On Weibo, China’s Twitter, a hashtag roughly translated to #EverybodyKAWS was trending, with 450 million hits by Tuesday and more than 83,000 comments across the site.

Some people didn’t understand the hype.

“What’s so special about a T-shirt?,” one user wrote.

Others suggested the real reason why people were going crazy for the clothes was because they craved the cutthroat competition to get a limited-edition item.

“The clothes look nice at first glance,” one user wrote, “but clawing at them just looks too ugly.”

Adapted from an article first published in the South China Morning Post.

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