Sweats and T-shirts designed around the concept of “What Sets You Free?”

TOKYO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–GU, the Japanese apparel retailer with the brand theme “TOKYO TO SOHO,” announces the launch of a collaboration collection with New York-based international artist Fantasista Utamaro. Items will be available exclusively at the GU Soho New York Store from Saturday, December 9th.

GU is a sister brand of UNIQLO, and part of the Fast Retailing Group, that delivers the latest in trendy fashion at affordable prices and reliable quality. The company opened its first pop-up store in Soho, New York in the fall of 2022, and established Global Product Development and Merchandising Headquarters in New York in September 2023.

This collaboration between GU, which aims to be a global fashion brand originating in Japan, and Fantasista Utamaro, who presents Japanese culture to the world through his art and unique worldview, arose from mutual appreciation of each other’s concepts, and a shared approach of taking on global challenges. The collaboration concept of “What Sets You Free?” is a fusion of the “freedom” that is the origin of GU’s brand name, and “freedom” from the creative slogan embraced by Fantasista Utamaro.

The collaboration to be released on December 9 comprises two items, GU’s popular heavyweight sweatshirt and Graphic T-shirt, with designs on the chest and back featuring anime and manga-style art representative of Japanese pop culture. In addition, store decorations and artwork commemorating this collaboration will be exhibited for a limited time until December 14th. Further, as part of a participation-style, interactive art project, visitors to the store will be invited to write their answers to the question “What sets you free?” on a sticker, and affix it to a monument displayed in the store for the evolution of the artwork. We will give an original sticker to participants on a first-come, first-served basis, while supplies last.

Fantasista Utamaro said: “When asked what something is, most people will stop and think. In our busy everyday lives, taking the time to face yourself is not so easy. Nearly all our actions are determined by our objectives or living environment. ‘What Sets You Free?’ This collaboration incorporates a desire for people to celebrate themselves by deriving the answer. I’m very much looking forward to fusing my creative expression with the affinity I feel for the GU concept, and seeing what kind of chemistry we can create through artwork produced with the many ‘freedoms’ of customers.”

GU hopes that this collaboration will be an opportunity for many people in New York to enjoy fashion, art, and culture of Japan.

Collection Overview

Sales period: From December 9, 2023 (Saturday)

Store availability: GU SoHo New York Store

No. of products: Total 2 items

Price range: $19.90 – $39.90


One-day Live painting Event

GU will hold an in-store event with Fantasista Utamaro on Saturday, December 9th. Customers who purchase collaboration products will be able to participate in a live painting event where Fantasista Utamaro will draw a message directly on the product.

Date: December 9th, 2023 (Saturday)

Time: 11:00am-1:00pm, 2:00pm-4:00pm, 5:00pm-6:00pm

Location: GU SoHo New York Store, 579 Broadway, New York, N.Y.

About Fantasista Utamaro

Fantasista Utamaro is a Japanese Visual Artist / Animation Director / Art Director based in Brooklyn, New York. A part of the new generation of entrepreneurial young Japanese artists whose vision defies boundaries, he brings ultra pop, technicolor sensibilities to every project with explosive energy that is unmistakably his own. He received a British Academy Television Craft Awards (BAFTA) award in 2022.


About GU

The brand name GU is derived from the Japanese word jiyu, which means “free and unconfined.” The company was established in 2006 in Japan as a sister brand of UNIQLO and part of Fast Retailing Group. GU has around 460 locations mainly in Japan, with several stores throughout Asia.



For media queries, please contact:

Yoko Shimada, Dawn Abotsi – GU PR Team

Tel. (631) 578-2449

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