New York contemporary artist KAWS – real name Brian Donnelly – has collaborated with the likes of Dior, Nike and Comme des Garçons. Now he’s bringing his subversive cartoon figures to retail giant Uniqlo’s upcoming summer collection to coincide with his exhibition, KAWS: Companionship in the Age of Loneliness, launching at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) this September.

The Japanese retailer knows how to pick talent for a good collaboration: in the past it has enlisted the help of Alexander Wang, cult Finnish label Marimekko, British designer JW Anderson and even tennis champion Roger Federer.

Ex-Disney illustrator KAWS pushes the art of appropriation, blurring the line between commerce and visual art with Warhol-level crossover appeal. Best known for his Mickey Mouse-esque cartoons and vinyl figures, KAWS’ work is a reminder of the importance of human companionship in the digital age.

The Uniqlo collaboration, titled KAWS: Summer, will include a range of printed tees and tote bags featuring his cult illustrations for both adults and kids. The range will be available for purchase at all Uniqlo stores, online at and at the NGV Design Store from Friday September 20.