When fashion meets art: Onitsuka Tiger turns its London flagship into a gallery

Art and fashion has long enjoyed a passionate relationship, where their unexpected collaborations often spark aesthetic magic.

This summer, the pleasant surprise comes from the well-known Japanese fashion label Onitsuka Tiger and Art Intelligence Global (AIG), an art advisory founded by contemporary art rainmakers Yuki Terase, Amy Cappellazzo, and Adam Chinn. When their creative minds collide, the result is Tiger Gallery – an out-of-the-box project that transforms the streetwear brand’s flagship stores into a gallery space.

The first contemporary artist to grace the walls of Tiger Gallery is Ugandan auction rising star, Godwin Champs Namuyimba. His artistic vision will take over Onitsuka Tiger’s flagship store in Regent Street, London until 17 September 2022.

Tiger Gallery in Regent Street, London 

Tiger Gallery will be inaugurated by Ugandan artist Godwin Champs Namuyimba

When Yuki Terase and Amy Cappellazzo left Sotheby’s last year, many were wondering where they would go next. Raising eyebrows in the art world, the two auction house heavyweights teamed up to form AIG – a company with a global vision while tapping the young Asian market. 

Terase joined Sotheby’s in 2011 and has oversaw every major contemporary art sale in Asia since 2018, after she was named the head of the department. Best known for her innovative curational approach, Terase spearheaded phenomenal sales curated by trend icons, from famous Korean rapper T.O.P. in 2019 to "King of Mandopop" Jay Chou in 2021.

Whereas Cappellazzo was an art advisor, curator, and key figure in the establishment of Art Basel in Miami Beach before working with Sotheby's. In 2016, when Sotheby's acquired her art consultancy company, Art Agency, Partners (AAP) at US$85 million, she began to lead the auction house’s expanded global fine art division as Chairman of the Fine Art Department.

And their founding partner, Adam Chinn, was the Chief Operating Officer in Sotheby’s from 2017 to 2018, where he led the company’s transactions on a global basis.

In an interview with The Value last year, when speaking of AIG’s future, Terase and Cappellazzo mentioned the importance of using exhibition space to its fullest potential. And this year, the duo have chosen the most unexpected gallery venue – a streetwear brand’s flagship store.

Amy Cappellazzo (left) and Yuki Terase (right), founders of the art advisory firm, Art Intelligence Global (AIG)

Adam Chinn, former Chief Operating Officer of Sotheby's, is now co-founder of Art Intelligence Global (AIG)

In fact, it is not without reason that AIG has chosen Onitsuka Tiger as their long-term partner. Launched in 1949 as a pioneering performance shoe, Onitsuka Tiger began with a commitment to promoting youth health, and since then, the brand continues to innovate and evolve into a premier international fashion and lifestyle label.

In recent years, Onitsuka Tiger’s striped trainers have become a fashion must-have for youngsters – especially in China, South Korea and Thailand. Determined to expand and support artistic talent, the brand has been collaborating with a wide variety of creative souls over the years, from visual artists and fashion designers to art collectives and sneaker boutiques.

This time, Onitsuka Tiger has extended its footprints to the gallery world by working with AIG, aiming to support global contemporary artists and create chances for people to casually experience art. Tiger Gallery will allow artists to not only exhibit works at its prime flagship store locations, but also curate interventions in the Onitsuka Tiger world by designing shop window creatives and digital experiences in the brand’s online spaces.

Onitsuka Tiger's collaboration with American artist, Brian Kenny

Onitsuka Tiger's collaboration with Singaporean artist, Andrew Loh

Its inaugural exhibition spotlights the widely celebrated Ugandan artist Godwin Champs Namuyimba. As an emerging Black artist, Namuyimba uses the human form to explore identity, race and individuality, and attempts to awaken the complex racial and social issues that have been neglected in history. 

With an extraordinarily astute sense of line and colours, his works have repeatedly outperformed estimates at auction in the past few years, signalling a rising demand for his works.

In June 2021, just days before the artist’s solo show at New York’s East Projects gallery, his painting Destiny sold for US$107,100, 13 times its low estimate of US$8,000 at Philips New York. Five months later, his auction record was broken by another figurative painting, The Connector, which fetched HK$1.3 million (around US$168,000) against its low estimate of HK$200,000 (around US$25,400).

In the future, Tiger Gallery will continue to give global visibility to a diverse range of contemporary artists, going beyond the scope of a seasonal artist or brand colloboration. 

Godwin Champs Namuyimba | Destiny, Acrylic and paper maroufle on denim (sold: US$107,100)

Godwin Champs Namuyimba | The Connector, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas (sold: around US$168,000) 

Godwin Champs Namuyimba's works exhibited in Tiger Gallery

Gallery Information
Date: 4 Augst - 17 September 2022
Address: Onitsuka Tiger Regent Street, London Flagship, 249-251 Regent St., London W1B 2EP, UK
Opening Hours: 10:30 am - 6:00 pm