One of Europe’s Oldest Fashion Houses Collaborates With a Self-Taught Artist

Art Talk
April 20, 2020

Growing up low-income, broke, I didn’t really have much to do besides be a bad kid. There weren’t a lot of role models surrounding me,” says Southern California–based artist Joshua Vides. “The only thing I had to look up to was the California sky.” That sky became the inspiration for California Sky, a collaboration between Vides and Fendi that’s part of the Italian brand’s pre-fall 2020 collection. Creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi designed the pieces, which are festooned with Vides’s largely black-and-white graphics in his signature hand-drawn style.

How does one of Europe’s oldest fashion houses come to connect with a 30-year-old, self-taught artist from the working-class city of Rialto, California, an artist whose pedigree is in streetwear? Instagram, of course. As Vides tells it, an employee from Fendi reached out to him via direct message on the social media platform. “At first, I didn’t know whether to believe it or not,” says Vides, who then traveled to New York to meet the Fendi team during fashion week in February 2018.

Visiting Fendi’s Rome headquarters, Vides found out for the first time what Venturini Fendi had in mind for their next project—specifically, more than 100 all-white styles to be enhanced with his line drawings. Vides typically creates pieces only in black and white, but Venturini Fendi wanted him to go outside his comfort zone and inject some color, too. At first Vides was nervous. “I didn’t know what I was walking into,” he recalls. “Silvia was so relaxed about everything. She was like, ‘What do you want to do?’ She was just so open.”

Vides, who was born in Rialto to Guatemalan immigrant parents, grew up trying to emulate his older brother’s drawing skills, eventually turning to graffiti. “There was so much energy, and I didn’t know what to do with it,” the artist says. At 19, he decided to try his hand at streetwear, launching a brand called CLSC. He opened a store in L.A.’s Fairfax district, a skater hotbed, and sold to more than 400 retailers worldwide.