From books to tribute albums, Kurt Cobain has been immortalized in countless ways since his sudden death in 1994. Now, the Nirvana frontman is being commemorated with an official apparel collection, inspired by the singer’s artwork and personal journal entries.
Curated by his daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, the “Kurt Was Here” collection features T-shirts, sweatshirts, and hoodies adorned with Cobain’s sketches, paintings, and hand-written notes. The collection is a partnership between The End of Music, LLC (the business arm of Cobain’s estate) and Live Nation Merchandise, and launches today at Barneys, U.K. department store Selfridges, and online at KurtCobainShop.com.
The collection features more than 50 pieces in total, available in unisex sizing and styling. According to Live Nation, the designs were all taken directly from Cobain’s original artwork and have not been edited or re-sized on the garments, keeping at least a little bit of integrity in check.
Though it was his music that received the most attention, Cobain was also a prolific artist, and sales of his original paintings and drawings have fetched tens of thousands of dollars at auction. And while Nirvana merch and apparel featuring Cobain’s likeness have been a staple of both college bedrooms and basements since the singer’s death, this is the first clothing collection that features Cobain’s personal archive of work.
Each item in the collection was “designed under the creative direction” of Frances Bean, who is helping to manage her father’s business entity.
Frances Bean has remained largely silent on her father’s death aside from brief interviews here and there, and it’s not clear to what extent she worked on this collection aside from picking out the source material. The 27-year-old declined interviews for this project and has not spoken about it on social media (her Instagram is littered with photos of herself and brief cover songs, and she hasn’t posted on Twitter since March 2018). Still, Frances Bean reportedly also chose the cover art for Nirvana’s rarities album, Silver: The Best of the Box, so it’s plausible that she had a hand in picking out the art for this collection as well.
While some have questioned the tactfulness of releasing a clothing collection featuring Cobain’s likeness, this isn’t the first time a company has tried to capitalize on the singer’s enduring popularity. Everyone from American Eagle to Forever 21 continue to release Cobain-inspired merch, and French streetwear brand, Vetements sells a $550 T-shirt that rips off the “Corporate magazines still suck” shirt the singer famously wore on the cover of Rolling Stone in 1992. A rep for Live Nation says this collection is different, however, due to the estate’s direct involvement, and because the timing is ripe for something that celebrates creativity and authenticity.
“We believe that the importance of art is exceedingly potent in today’s social and political climate,” the rep tells Rolling Stone via email, “and that it is the right time to share this collection of Kurt’s work with artists, collectors and fans, allowing them to experience Kurt’s legacy in a new way, and collectively celebrate his lasting impact on the world.”
The “Kurt Was Here” collection comes on the heels of the 25th anniversary of Cobain’s death. The singer was found dead in his home in Seattle in April of 1994, from what police said was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head. A portion of sales from the collection will be donated to the Jed Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention among teens and young adults.