Fashion / Society

Could nostalgia be why fashion has a fancy for cartoons?

By Josefin Forsberg

Photo: Juergen Teller for Loewe

At first glance, cartoons and haute couture aren't exactly natural bedfellows. But with a bit of digging, you'll quickly discover that designers adore these kooky characters

Nostalgia has become a theme that dominates the fashion industry. Take Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe, for example. Partnering with Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli, the brand's first cartoon collaboration was released in 2022. The collection featured motifs from the now-iconic *Spirited Away", which received an Oscar at the 75th Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature (at the time, it was the first film to win this award which was originally produced in a language other than English), seeing familiar characters emblazoned across ready-to-wear, blankets and scarves, as well as appearing on leather and canvas bags; The young protagonist Chihiro, mysterious Haku, sorceress Yubaba, and Kaonashi (the spirit with no face), Fly-Bird and the Susuwatari soot sprites.


On the trail of the collection's massive success, more anime drops followed. "The world we are living in needs a counteract: not as an escape, but as a different outlook," said creative director Jonathan Anderson on the brand's continued collaboration with the Japanese animation studio. "This, to me, is what Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films for Studio Ghibli are about: a commentary on the moment and an alternative to it, always heartfelt, fulfilling, full of fantasy and sentiment."

Earlier this year Loewe released the final instalment of its Studio Ghibli collaboration, covering its clothing and accessories in motifs and characters from the 2004 film Howl's Moving Castle. The film’s key characters – Sophie, Howl, fire demon Calcifer, as well as Markl, Heen, Turnip Head, and the Witch of the Waste – were drawn as leather or shearling intarsia, turned into embroidery on leather or textile, decorated with crystal and stud inlays on leather.

Scenes of the film were printed in the lining of tweed jackets, or all over shirts and shorts. "In the collection, we pushed creativity with bold, intricately crafted pieces designed to bring the world of the film, literally, to life," says Anderson. "Key pieces embody the beloved characters and backdrops, giving wearers the chance to identify with the film on a deep level and escape into its rich layers. It’s almost like handcrafted virtual reality in wearable form.