It’s hard to believe that Takashi Murakami, king collaborator, has never worked with a sports team, but he hasn’t.
He doesn’t have a huge connection to American baseball—he says he’s learned about it mostly through movies like Moneyball and watching Japanese baseball, which is the country’s most popular sport—but ComplexCon coming to Chicago was reason enough for him to lend his playful artwork to the Chicago Cubs for a collection of merch that will be available to purchase at the inaugural event this weekend.
This is also new territory for the Chicago Cubs, who haven’t been as open to creative collaborations in the past as, say, the New York Yankees, who have worked with Gucci, Polo Ralph Lauren, and the Museum of Modern Art. But the Cubs’ vice president of marketing, Lauren Fritts, says that’s starting to change, and they are trying to engage the next generation of fans with different creative tie-ins.
“Innovation and creativity are part of the Cubs’ DNA, so we jumped at the chance to collaborate with a media platform and a global artist both renowned for those qualities, too,” says Fritts. “This season we have done more to fuse art and baseball in unique ways. Being part of ComplexCon is such an incredible way for us to continue on that journey.”
For the collection, Murakami looked to the bear—his most famous bear is probably the one he designed for Chicago native Kanye West’s Graduation cover art more than 10 years ago—and worked with logos and text pulled directly from various eras of the Cubs’ brand, from the 1900s to present day. The assortment, which was produced by Mitchell & Ness and New Era includes basketball mesh shorts ($150); a baseball mesh jersey ($175); a white short-sleeve T-shirt ($65); a blue hoodie ($165); and two snapbacks ($55) that will all be available at ComplexCon Chicago in the Gift Shop. Attendees can also pre-order a crewneck sweatshirt ($165), a satin jacket ($250), and an extremely limited-edition letterman jacket ($1,500)—only 17 have been produced—at the event. Following ComplexCon, a limited run of the collection will be available in the Cubs Team Store in Wrigley Field starting Monday.
On Friday at noon CST, Murakami will introduce the collaboration and present it to the public right outside of Wrigley Field at Gallagher Way.
Murakami, who has been involved with ComplexCon since its start in 2016, says that it’s morphed from an American event to something that’s now recognized by people all over the world, and bringing it to Chicago is a nice evolution for the festival.
“I hear that Chicago is a politically active and happening place,” says Murakami. “I think it’s very exciting that the youth and politics meet and connect on this occasion.”
Check out the collection below.
ComplexCon is coming to Chicago on July 20-21, 2019. Experience the festival and exhibition at McCormick Place, featuring performances, panels, and more. For ticket info, click here.