Banksy Designed A Stab-Proof Vest for Stormzy

It's dark, but it's art.

by Emma Specter
Jul 1 2019, 4:46pm

Anglophile grime fans need no introduction to Stormzy (and neither do fans of Michaela Coel's deranged, sublime series Chewing Gum, in which the British rapper makes a S2 premiere debut). Similarly, street-art fans of any nation likley know who Banksy is, but did you know the two "-y"-ending artists just collaborated?

"Last night I headlined Glastonbury in a stab-proof vest custom made by the greatest, most iconic living artist on planet earth, the one and only BANKSY," Stormzy wrote on Instagram this weekend, garnering supportive emoji from the likes of Virgil Abloh and Diddy. Banksy took to Instagram himself the same day to claim responsibility for the vest, writing simply, "I made a customised stab-proof vest and thought - who could possibly wear this? Stormzy at Glastonbury."

Stormzy's Banksy-designed stab-proof, Union Jack-painted vest carries particular weight in the U.K., where stabbing homicides reached have record numbers, USA Today reported in April. The stabbing death of 14-year-old Jaden Moodie in January "led to a debate [about race and knife crime] that has been predictably misinformed," as op-ed writer Afua Hirsch put it in the Guardian, noting: "In our time, if the state were interested in the wellbeing of black families, I doubt it would be actively trying to deport married black fathers who have been in the country since childhood and are active carers to small children in otherwise stable, two-parent households. "

Stormzy has been outspoken about political issues before, calling out Theresa May about Grenfell at the 2018 Brit awards, and Banksy is obviously no stranger to political activism. Nonetheless, the two artists' messages were greater than the sum of their parts at Glastonbury, a festival known for its activist roots that featured an anti-Boris Johnson print by Stanley Donwood this year.

Banksy's works typically take the form of public art, so it's exciting to see the artist veering into fashion with a message. For his part, Stormzy is typically found in grime-artist-approved tracksuits, reminding us in his song 'Wicked Skengman Part 4,' "“everybody calm down it’s a tracksuit, what the f*** man? I ain’t gonna stab you,” and his vest takes that message to new heights. Let's hope Stormzy's positive influence is enough to stop Banksy from shredding this one. (Can you even shred Kevlar? Let's hope not.)

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