“The Kiss,” a six-foot tall 1907 painting by Gustav Klimt that sold for more than $100 million in 2006, hangs in the Austrian Gallery Belvedere. For $35, students can buy the T-shirt version from Medici Streetwear and wear it in downtown Austin.
Medici Streetwear is a clothing company that sells shirts featuring prints of paintings by artists like Edvard Munch, Claude Monet and Gustav Klimt.
Created by two students from UT and one from Auburn University, the brand was designed to encourage others to appreciate classical works in the same way they do.
“There’s been this abandonment of classic works of art being taught and respected and loved among kids our age,” said business sophomore David Wilson, one of the founders of the brand. “I thought streetwear would be a great medium to expose people our age to the arts.”
The founders said their name comes from the Medici family, who had a major impact on the arts during the Italian Renaissance, financing the works of artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Medici was launched in August and sells products on their website, medicistreetwear.com.
“It’s nice that we don’t have a brick and mortar store, so we didn’t get hit with having to close a store down (during COVID-19),” Auburn University sophomore Sam Gray said. “People will be online regardless (of) if there’s a pandemic or not.”
To the founders’ surprise, they said they’ve racked up more than 800 orders across 47 states.
“It was a huge goal for us when we skipped the barrier from friends and family to people we don’t know, and it spread from there,” Wilson said.
They attribute much of their success and publicity to social media, especially the video streaming platform TikTok. One video they posted on the app has garnered nearly half a million views.
Because of their success online, social media influencers have contacted the brand offering to advertise Medici Streetwear to their followers.
“A lot of them have reached out from different platforms, and (said) they would love to share it with their following because they think the cause is super cool,” said co-founder JD Powers.
The founders said they want their brand to make a difference in the community, and have decided to donate 10% of their revenue to Creative Action, an Austin-based nonprofit. The nonprofit hosts after-school, in-school and community-based programs dedicated to inspiring a love of the arts and community growth in youth.
“We love Creative Action and the emphasis they put on the younger generation, and being able to work with a company that inspires kids even younger than us is huge,” business sophomore Powers said.
In the future, the creators of Medici Streetwear hope to volunteer at Creative Action after-school programs and interact with participants in person.
“We want to actually be involved with them and give them a support system,” Powers said.
Wilson said their customers are attracted to Medici Streetwear because their clothing has artistic meaning.
“They’re proud to know what is on their shirt,” Wilson said. “They’re proud to know that their shirt means something.”