Brand Obama

In the Itaewon neighborhood of Seoul, where every other store-keep on the main drag is trying to measure a tattered, soaked urban scout for a new suit, this garment was spied — a rather natty, silky, shiny shirt with a monogrammed cuff with another man’s name. Not an unusual fashion idiom — wearing someone else’s name — but this one sort of moves things in an unusual direction. I don’t know if I have ever seen a garment adorned with the name of a sitting United States President, especially overseas. Now, I’m not talking about a pejorative protest t-shirt or some such. There are plenty of those — I don’t even need to guess about that one. This here? It’s meant to imbue its wearer with a special power. Much more than Calvin or Tommy. Or even Shaq or LeBron.

Related, somehow is this bit of work by studio brother Andrew Gartrell, riffing on some peculiar image I found in the New York Times of an Obama-Spock photoshop. What is curious here is the ways in which images, names, stories swirl in a vortex of possibility, hope, lawsuits, fair-use and fashion. It’s in the making that the social exists, always becoming and this sort of riffing on what “Obama” is — something that happens rather than something static.

What is in a name, anyway? Sometimes nothing, sometimes everything.

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