The fascination of American pop culture has been a huge influence in Japanese youth and street culture for many decades. In the 1990s, the concept of cool t-shirts with Western designs attracted three Japanese graphic designers. This phenomenon of Western influence lead to the formation of Graniph in 2001, a clothing design company specializing in limited edition graphic t-shirts.
Graniph’s unique branding strategy uses 30% of designs by Graniph employed artists and 70% of external designs to release specialized t-shirts. The external designs come from local Japanese artist, international artists and a few designs selected during special events and competitions. Each month, Graniph releases 7o to 100 designs a month (and 130 designs during the summer) in a limited quantity of t-shirts positioned at $20 USD (2500 Yen). The concept of Western like designs and prices was not common in Japan. The youth of Japan quickly became interested in Graniph due to it’s unique branding and concept of American prices and designs similar to a t-shirt worn by a kid in Brooklyn. In 2007, Graniph launched the first international t-shirt design competition with the intention of attracting talented young artist around the globe. During the first year of the competition, the company received 15,000 designs. From February 1-29th, Graniph will accept submissions for their their competition. Photographs, graphics, pictures and illustrations are all accepted. The grand prized design will win one million yen, that’s the equivalent of $9,000 USD!