This weekend, thousands of painted people descend on Tobacco Dock for the 10th London International Tattoo Convention, the biggest body art convention in the world. To coincide, Danish sports label Hummel, the world’s first social marketplace for tattoo designs Tattoodo and celebrity tattoo artist Ami James team up to launch a capsule collection.
As far as sports collabs go, it’s an interesting one. Born in Denmark in 1923, Hummel is worn by some of the world’s greatest soccer teams including Real Madrid, Tottenham Hotspur and the Danish national squad. In a sportswear landscape aggressively dominated by the likes of Nike and Adidas, it’s refreshing to know there exists a brand that plays to a quieter tune, whose work is informed by the purist ethos of Danish design. Even its logo is, well, just nice: a stylised bumblebee, the visual representation of the company’s name which means ‘bee’ in Danish.
The striking Ami James, on the other hand, is one of the kings of American body art; the shorn, inked owner of tattoo parlours around the world including Love Hate Tattoos, home of the TLC show, Miami Ink. In 2011, Israeli-born James moved to New York and opened Wooster Street Social Club, the subject of a new TLC show, NY Ink, as well as Love Hate Social Club in London, Cork (Ireland) and Asheville. Last year, he co-founded Tattoodo, a website that offers exclusive tattoo art, inspiration and designs.
An odd coupling, no? So it’s nice to see it working. James’ graphic illustrations appear in subtle graphite tones across Hummel’s classic Marathona trainer. Hummel’s iconic chevrons play alongside black suede and a contrasting red midsole. T-shirts, a paneled crew sweat and varsity jacket come decorated with Tattoodo graphic panels, Hummel’s logo and a varsity-inspired ‘A’.
The designs are anything but raucous. In fact, you have to look pretty hard to see James’ work emerge from the grey. It’s a big contrast to the sword swallowing and heavy metal that will be shaking walls at Tobacco Dock this weekend – let’s put it this way: they won’t be playing Dido – but it could be a canny way of bringing two, very different worlds together.
The collection is available in selected stores throughout Europe and Japan from September 30th.