Ksubi Debuts ‘Blank Canvas’ Artist Program with Buffalo Creative Wasabi

Australia-born streetwear and denim label Ksubi is giving industry creatives a new platform to amplify their work.

The global brand this week announced the launch of “Blank Canvas,” a creative program for emerging artists who work in different mediums. The first chapter of the ongoing series will showcase work by Buffalo, N.Y.-based street artist Wasabi.

Buffalo, N.Y. artist Wasabi.

Buffalo, N.Y. artist Wasabi.

Courtesy of Ksubi

Founded in 1999 by a Sydney artist collective, Ksubi has close ties to creatives. Recognized for men’s and women’s denim styles characterized by street art-inspired motifs, DIY details, distressing, trend-forward silhouettes and its iconic box cross logo, the brand has partnered with artists including Slawn, Hidji, Dntwatchtv and Slumpy Kev, and has been sold at retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue and Kith.

Blank Canvas will serve as Ksubi’s new platform for showcasing the next generation of creatives to its international audience. “Ksubi has a long history of engaging with emerging artists,” CEO Craig King said. “Blank Canvas is the next step in this evolution, a more formal approach giving the artist the platform to highlight their unique talents whilst getting their designs into the market.”

One-of-a-kind designs by Wasabi.

One-of-a-kind designs by Wasabi.

Courtesy of Ksubi

Ahmad Johnson Jr., known as Wasabi, is the first artist to represent the project. After unveiling 500 one-of-a-kind works under the collection “Wasabi World” in 2017, the creator drew accolades from the American art world for his unique style.

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Colorful and referential, Wasabi’s hand-drawn and hand-painted works reimagine pop iconography from movies and cartoons along with culturally significant characters, moments and events. Wasabi’s portfolio spans various mediums, from paintings to wearable art, like vintage T-shirts. According to Ksubi, the work aligns with the company’s “creative outsider” ethos, blending nostalgia with ingenuity, making Wasabi a natural first choice for the Blank Canvas program.

Hand-drawn illustrations by Wasabi.

Hand-drawn illustrations by Wasabi.

Courtesy of Ksubi

“To partner with a brand like Ksubi is a big deal. The fact that I am the first Blank Canvas artist is even bigger,” the artist said. “I am thrilled for the fashion and art community to experience my work with Ksubi.”

The partnership will take shape through the release of a limited-edition collection dubbed “Ksubi Blank Canvas Presents: Wasabi.” The exclusive line will include two T-shirt styles and a hoodie adorned in Wasabi’s signature punk take on pop iconography. Available beginning this week at Ksubi stores in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and London, as well as on Ksubi’s e-commerce site, the line is priced at $120-$195. Individual bespoke pieces will be stocked at the brand’s New York store beginning Thursday.

A selection of bespoke pieces will be available for purchase at Ksubi's New York store.

Courtesy of Ksubi

The Blank Canvas program complements Ksubi’s seasonal releases, which most recently included a pre-fall collection called “Lost Liberty,” which encouraged shoppers to “rediscover a sense of hedonism” and “surrender to their earthly pleasure.” The women’s collection featured the brand’s signature distressed denim, along with new black-wax coated styles and options in caramel and cobalt. Men’s options included utility-inspired pieces like jackets, cargo shorts and carpenter trousers.

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