It was a fulfilling night last Thursday for those involved in the partnership between the LA Kings and Mister Cartoon, as three years of hard work was fruitfully unveiled.
A launch reception was held in honor of the Kings new merchandise line, which was attentively designed by the tattoo and graffiti artist. Many of the designs were on hand for those present to view, including Cartoon’s completed mural that was contributed to the students at Para Los Niños Charter Middle School.
“Our goal behind this project was to unite two iconic fixtures in Los Angeles: two brands – the Kings and Mister Cartoon – two brands that were quintessentially LA and were interwoven within the fabric of the city,” said Jonathan Lowe, vice president of marketing for the Kings. “We felt that Mister Cartoon was the right voice to take our brand in a new direction but also hark back to its roots.”
The Mister Cartoon line features men’s and women’s tee shirts and hooded sweatshirts, along with a collection of hats that are now available in the Team LA Store as well as online.
“What he did was he took a lot of our logos – old and new – and tried to evolve them within his manner,” explained Sean Ryan, vice president of merchandise for AEG. “We didn’t really put any impediment on him. He was able to design from what he wanted and what he felt. And we didn’t want to put that limitation on him because he is that creative.”
It wasn’t hard for Cartoon to be inspired by his new collaboration, as he himself had been a fan of Kings apparel dating back to the club’s days at the Forum in Inglewood.
“I grew up watching the Kings. It is natural growing up in LA as you support your home team,” said Cartoon, who loves working on projects he believes in.
“In the 80s we used to wear their apparel. Even though we didn’t follow the games that tight we rocked all their apparel,” Cartoon said. “So we’d have Kings hats, Starter jackets – it was a whole movement of fashion. As I got older I paid more attention to the games, but as a teenager it was pure fashion.”
When it came time for him to actually create the designs for the new merchandise, Cartoon was confident in the direction he wanted to take his creativity.
“I got inspired by the 80s hip hop. I really tried to go back to the NWA/DOC time when everyone was rocking hockey jerseys and Kings hats,” described Cartoon. “That’s the time I was in high school. It was a really important time for hip hop and for me creatively.”
The final product was a line that fit right into the goal and vision of the Kings, from a marketing standpoint.
“If you look at the styles, they’re modern, they’re young – but at the same time they’re influenced by a rich history and tradition,” Lowe observed. “Our goal is that his merchandise appeals and connects with a younger audience while at the same time still rings true to Kings fans.”
In addition to appealing to the fans, one element of the collaboration brought Cartoon’s imagination back to the Kings on the ice.
“The product line actually hits the ice with Jonathan Quick’s mask,” declared Ryan, in reference to the mask that Cartoon designed for goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Quick wore the mask during the team’s warm-up session at STAPLES Center on Thursday night, and Quick’s wife, Jacqueline, was in attendance at the launch party. The actual mask design is identical to the mask design on the mural that the Para Los Niños students worked on.
Although Cartoon has partnered with other companies in the past to design merchandise, the Kings collaboration is undoubtedly unique due to all the various elements involved, such as the goalie mask and mural.
“He’s never done anything with a sports team, and if he was going to do anything with a team I wanted it to be the Kings because no one could connect with his LA inspired style and art better than we could. This project is all about creativity and re-imagining what is possible – both in the merchandise line and our charitable partnership with Para Los Ninos,” Lowe asserted.
This type of collaboration is something the Kings will seek to expand, should the success of the Cartoon partnership continue as planned.
“The goal is to align ourselves with other creative icons in the future and create new extensions of our merchandise and brand,” said Lowe.
So far, it’s been an excellent start.
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