It apparently started in April 2017. In April that year, 30 years after the first blue IKEA bag was made in 1987, the fashion house Balenciaga launched a blueprint of the IKEA bag Frakta. Ikea Chick Fashion was born. From Yellow Shopping Bags to IKEA Chick Fashion is the fascinating story about how the Swedish furniture giant also became a leader of fashion.
Autumn 2021, the company released its first branded merchandise collection, Efterträda (In English, Successor), featuring 10 pieces of clothing and accessories emblazoned with its logo and the barcode of the iconic Billy shelving system. The line inclined t-shirts, hoodies, bottles, umbrellas, towels, and tote bags. The tops and towels were made from 100 per cent sustainability-sourced cotton, while the collapsible umbrella was made from recycled polyester.
By clicking the image below, you can learn more about IKEA’s e-commerce growth.
IKEA aimed to become the new symbol of democratic design represented by the brand. The capsule was born from a collaboration between the parent company in Sweden and the IKEA Japanese branch of Tokyo, one of the capitals of design and above all of streetwear worldwide, with in mind the values at the base of all Ikea products, which today range from furniture to home décor, also passing through publishing and foods & beverages, which are those of simplicity , functionality and minimalism.
Is this a sign of the times? In the past, luxury brands such as Balenciaga and Luis Vuitton have been copied to excess. Now, a low-cost supplier of furniture is taking the driver’s seat by launching a streetwear collection.
Bootleg IKEA-branded clothing and accessories have proliferated on the internet for years, with designer Demna Gvasalia copying the brand’s iconic blue Frakta bag for Balenciaga in 2017 and two LA-based brands teaming up to turn the tote into a baseball cap.
By clicking the image below, you can learn how IKEA conquered the world with innovation and design.
The streetwear collection, however, does not consist of simple Ikea branded merch but represents a concrete effort in the field of lifestyle that starts from clothing items such as t-shirts, sweatshirts and tote bags but includes daily accessories such as portable fans, key rings, water bottles and towels. The graphics that decorate all the objects in the collection are those of the now iconic IKEA logo and that of the barcode. Especially the items that bear such graphics recall the aesthetics of the Off White x IKEA Receipt Carpet of the Markerad collection created by Virgil Abloh.
However, the Balenciaga bag was only part of what has become a do-it-yourself movement. In the wake of the bag, an army of design products appeared, so-called hacks, where creative souls all over the globe had designed the IKEA bag into almost by the numbers. The cheap plastic bag appeared online transformed into raincoats, thongs, face masks, dog clothing, bum bags. The list is long.
According to IKEA, the Efterträda collection mimics its approach to home-furnishing, “with simple, everyday takes on clothes and accessories”.
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The boom in popularity of IKEA’s blue shopping bags thanks to Demna Gvasalia and Balenciaga is eloquent. But the fact that the brand counts among its collaborators personalities such as Abloh, Daniel Arsham, Olafur Eliasson and Sarah Andelman as well as with brands such as Sonos and Greyhoud Originals has proved to be trendsetting. Not to mention, as pointed out by the brand strategist Lucile de Goallec on the pages of Fashion United, that the graphics of the barcode suggest ideas of homologation and commodification, as well as not being the maximum of originality.
People who have been ashamed of replica Aalto stools, Billy bookshelves or cheap IKEA mattresses with difficult Scandinavian names can get over their embarrassment. IKEA is once again a wizard.
From Yellow Shopping Bags to IKEA Chick Fashion, written by Tor Kjolberg