Upper Playground: Art-Focused Fashion

by Karmaloop Rep Code

Founded in San Francisco, California in 1998, Upper Playground is one of the leaders of the progressive art movement.

Recognized as a catalyst of the fusion of art and fashion, Upper Playground releases new apparel lines bi-annually and operates the FIFTY24SF Gallery which showcases original art from some of the finest contemporary artists from around the globe.

Brand history

The idea for Upper Playground came to light in the mid ’90s when three grade school friends decided to change the landscape dominated by splashy brands. They set out to make their own clothes featuring real-life images from old school hip hop, skateboarding, graffiti, cult movies, urban life, and pop culture in general.

The name “Upper Playground” originally referred to elementary schools where the playgrounds were divided into “upper” and “lower” sections based on grade level, with upper being the “in” spot. Since then it has come to signify a higher consciousness and community focused on art – just like the Upper Playground brand.

Signature Artist Series

Through aggressive sticker and poster campaigns throughout the Bay Area, Upper Playground developed a loyal and passionate following. Artists began approaching Upper Playground in hopes of getting involved in the movement. With a growing demand for opportunities to join, the Signature Artist Series was created to spotlight artists who were often forgotten in the hype over DJs and skaters.

The Signature Artist Series provided a creative outlet as well as much deserved recognition to artists who made ends meet by designing skateboard graphics, album covers, and brand logos. Each artist was given the freedom to create an article of clothing with original artwork as the graphic and the artist’s name or graff “tag” as the sole branding.

Featured artists on Upper Playground’s Signature Artist Series include Damon Soule, Dale Dreiling, Ricky Powell, Gregory, Sam Flores, Dave Kinsey, Alex Pardee, Craola, David Choe, David O’Reilly, Dr. Lakra, El Mac, Boogie, Estevan Oriol, Herbert Baglione, Jeremy Fish, Mike Giant, Pushead, Saber, Tomer Hanuka, and Will Barras.

FIFTY24SF Gallery

The popularity of the Signature Artist Series led to the opening of the FIFTY24SF gallery, located next to the Upper Playground headquarters and store. Meant to be a studio environment for showcasing art that might never be considered for conventional art exhibits, the FIFTY24SF gallery has featured the work of hundreds of graffiti and fine artists including Seen, Zephyr, Kent Williams, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Dalek, and Giant.

Since 1998, the gallery has consistently executed innovative shows that carry out complex themes and ideas. Every year FIFTY24SF Gallery stages around 12 shows in its San Francisco location as well as Japan, Italy, France, Spain, and the UK.

Apart from serving as Upper Playground’s art gallery, FIFTY24SF is involved in the creation of books, collectible toys, DVD documentaries of musicians and artists, limited edition T-shirts, wood burned box sets, signed prints, signature hand-painted shoes, and other limited edition items.

Following the success of FIFTY24SF, Upper Playground released three spin-off lines dedicated to individual artists Ricky Powell, Bigfoot, and Sam Flores.

Upper Playground now has another home on Broadwick Street in Carnaby, London which houses the largest selection of Upper Playground products in Europe, along with local and international artwork.

Upper Playground apparel is sold in over 300 boutiques and online.

Upper Playground at Karmaloop.com

Upper Playground propagates its art through shirts, cut and sew, outerwear, headwear, accessories, babywear, childrenswear, housewares, collectibles, books, films, and prints. This season, Karmaloop is showcasing Upper Playground tees and caps with the brand’s signature artwork. Get them now at discounted prices when you use its Karmaloop Rep Codes!

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