How Kenzo's collaboration with WWF and Tiger Beer to raise awareness of tiger conservation came to be
"There are two kinds of evil people in this world. People who do evil stuff, and people who see evil stuff being done and don't try to stop it."
We never thought a Mean Girls quote could be so apt in tiger conservation, yet here we are. There are two kinds of evil people in the world and neither Kenzo nor Tiger Beer wish to be grouped with either. In partnership with WWF to raise awareness of and support for wild tigers, Tiger Beer pledged in 2017, a six-year initiative with the wildlife organisation to double the world's wild tiger population by 2022. In its second year — they call upon Kenzo, whose house logo is a tiger, to join the party.
"Every day we see tigers used in popular culture — in fashion motifs, on premium products and on billboards. Yet, tigers in the wild are in danger of becoming extinct," said Michael Baltzer, Leader of Tigers Alive Initiative of WWF. "WWF is a leader in an ambitious global effort to double wild tigers but the tiger needs every help it can get. We are therefore delighted to have this powerful partnership with Tiger Beer and Kenzo. We hope it sets a new wave of action and awareness from other brands for wild tigers."
So came the Rare Stripes collection, a limited edition unisex 8-piecer by Kenzo, from which 100% of the proceeds will go to WWF. Below, a few essential facts and a peek at the fashion collaboration before it arrives on Singapore shores.
There are only 3,890 tigers left in the world
Give and take a few. WWF is crossing their fingers for twice that number by 2022.
It's everyone's fault
Baltzer told us about the two major threats against tigers. The first is illegal poaching; the other is the loss of tiger's natural habitat — the forest — which humans have taken over for ourselves. "The places where tigers live in are shrinking and that to a large extend is due to the increase of urban development and particularly large scale agriculture like palm oil and rubber, where people are coming in and chopping forests down [for commercial plantation]. Basically, tigers are finding less and less space to live. So understanding the relationship between the things you can choose and how that has impacted the forest where the tigers live is really important as well."
The power of collaboration can save wild tigers from extinction
"That's the value of working with Tiger Beer and Kenzo. It's really important that we are broadening out, particularly to young people because it's the young generation that will be stopping tiger extinction," said Baltzer. "The biggest threat to tigers is the demand for tiger parts that make illegal trade of tiger poaching profitable. We're hoping educating the next generation will stop poaching which will ultimately lead to tigers stopped being killed."
Kenzo mentored four emerging designers from Asia and America in the designing of the artwork
While the label is Kenzo, the tiger artwork which graces the Rare Stripes collection are designed by "the next generation" Baltzer speaks of. They are Esther Goh, an illustrator from Singapore; Julienne Tan, a printmaker of Cambodian and Korean ancestry; and Sean Lean, a Malaysian digital artist, all of whom represent a country in South East Asia where tigers are most threatened. Contemporary artist and sculptor Meryl Smith represents the city of New York where the creative directors of Kenzo, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim hail from.
The design team, along with Kenzo, travelled to Cambodia for inspiration
Tiger Beer brought Kenzo's co-creative directors and the four artists to Cambodia — where tigers are now functionally extinct — to meet a WWF Wildlife specialist to better understand the plight of wild tigers, in particular, those they were assigned to recreate through design.
The tigers on Rare Stripes collection are real
No cartoons here. Each of the wild tigers expressed on the sweaters and T-shirts pay tribute to fallen and surviving tigers. Esther Goh's blue bomber jacket, above, tells of Uporny's life. The Amur cub, born to distress in the outskirts of Vyazemskoye Village in Russia, was rescued by WWF at 6-months-old. He was eventually released into the wild when he was strong enough so WWF could study his anatomy and patterns to better understand tiger rehabilitation. You can learn more about the tiger you're repping by scanning the label of your Rare Stripes garment.
On limited run, Rare Stripes is currently only available in Tokyo
The collection, entirely made from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) compliant organic cotton, is currently only available in Kenzo Tokyo. Word on the street is that Rare Stripes will be retailed at the Kenzo Singapore flagship sometime in August. Watch this space for the latest updates!
Rare Stripes is only available in Kenzo Tokyo. A Singapore release date has yet to be released. Stay tuned for Buro's exclusive interview with Humberto Leon and Carol Lim of Kenzo.