The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa): 2013 SPRZ NY Partnership with Uniqlo

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMa): 2013 SPRZ NY Partnership with Uniqlo

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In 2013, Ruth Shapiro, Director of Sales and Business Development for The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, considered whether to collaborate on a new initiative with MoMA’s valued corporate partner, UNIQLO, a global fast fashion retailer based in Japan. UNIQLO asked MoMA to be the leading partner in its SPRZ NY rollout, an immersive art apparel program that would feature over 200 apparel items with designs inspired by artists and artwork represented in MoMA’s collection. UNIQLO had demonstrated its commitment to MoMA’s mission and values with its recent multi-year sponsorship of the museum’s Free Friday Nights program. Years earlier, the two organizations had partnered on a small-scale apparel line that featured up-and-coming artists from the museum’s contemporary affiliate, MoMA PS1.

Participating in SPRZ NY would potentially create new revenue streams for the museum, increase its brand visibility, and raise appreciation for the art and artists represented in its collection. However, Shapiro needed to assess whether a larger, more visible apparel line, which would feature masterworks from the museum’s collection, would be perceived by the art world and the museum’s stakeholders as an inappropriate commercialization of artists’ works.

The proposed SPRZ NY collaboration would also present new complexities for Shapiro’s department, MoMA Retail. She would have to negotiate a large scale, direct-to-retail licensing agreement with UNIQLO. The partners would need to agree on aspects of the agreement such as financial terms, creative control, product distribution, and brand visibility. She also knew the nature of UNIQLO’s fast fashion business model demanded expedited development schedules for its product lines, while MoMA needed lengthy approval processes in order to ensure the respectful treatment of artists’ works.

Shapiro was inclined to take part in the SPRZ NY initiative, but how would she ensure that the educational goals in MoMA’s mission would be met, the art industry would approve of the treatment of the artists’ works, the initiative would be financially profitable for MoMA, and the two partners could adapt to each other’s organizational practices?

Published Date: 2019-05-15

Suggested Citation: Carl Holvick, "The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): 2013 SPRZ NY Partnership with Uniqlo," Yale Theater Management Knowledge Base Case Study #18-94, May 15, 2019

Keywords: Branding, Scale, Growth, Partnership

Teaching Notes: Yes (contact yaletmknowledgebase@yale.edu

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