In the homeland of Manga (comics) and Anime (animated films), it seems the world of S1m0ne (SIMONE) has come true. Who needs real actors (that make unreasonable demands and requires millions to get them to do what you want them to) when fictional characters can do better?
Best selling Manga-come-TV-and-Movie-Series "ONE PIECE" has crossed that line in Japan along with Hirohiko Araki's "Jojo" series where cartoon characters are dressed in available-in-real-life Gucci and A/X Armani Exchange.
Araki and his "Jojo" character, Rohan made history as a cartoon character made the cover of a fashion magazine for the SPUR October 2012 issue. Since then, Gucci and Araki have collaborated with a Gucci x Jojo exhibition at the Gucci Shinjuku boutique and once again, with Araki's character Joyline dressed in Gucci's cruise line for SS2013 in a book-in-book for SPUR's February 2013 issue on stands now.
During the Gucci x Jojo exhibition, sneakers with price tags exceeding 70,000 yen and a featured bag selling for over 200,000 yen were purchased by Araki fans, proving that the collaboration did not only pay off by generating a lot of foot traffic and buzz, but it actually converted to sales of luxury items.
The 12th and latest ONE PIECE film, "ONE PIECE Z," has A/X Armani Exchange dressing the leading characters in some scenes. The garments are featured on real life models in popular men's fashion magazine, Men's Non-no's January 2013 issue, on stands now, and will be available for sale in the brand's Shibuya boutique on a limited basis.
Once upon a time, Manga and Anime were thought to be for a limited group of geeks who knew nothing of fashion and dressed poorly. But Araki has changed that by having his cult series characters dressing in luxury brand items and proving that it actually converts to real life sales.
How well A/X Armani Exchange will do with the ONE PIECE endorsement is yet to be seen, with the movie just opening on 15 December and Men's Non-no going on sale on 10 December, but this certainly is a move in a different direction from having T shirts printed with ONE PIECE characters go on sale at ZOZO TOWN and UNIQLO, much akin to Hello Kitty and Mickey Mouse.
If such authors as Araki and ONE PIECE creator Eiichiro Oda can have their characters endorse a brand and convert that to sales, perhaps the 2002 movie S1m0ne (SIMONE) was not that far off after all. And what better place for such fantasy (or threat?) come to life than Japan?