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As recently as August of this year, the gothic Old English font was recognized by the New York Times as fashion’s go-to font after dominating 2016’s concert merch, high-fashion hoodies, and even campaigns for Italian suits. But Old English’s moment in the sun is over. Enter Planet Kosmos, the new font du jour for designers like Raf Simons and Kanye West.
Kanye used it on his already hyped-up (and unreleased) “Calabasas” sweatpants, and now it’s popped up in Raf Simons’s spring/summer 2017 collection (above). Planet Kosmos was originally created for a nightclub by Danish graphic designer Mads Rydahl in 1996. He was inspired to create Planet Kosmos by imagining what font the brand name would look like on “a superfast electric motorcycle from a manga-like next millennium,” he says. The final result is something for “everyday items with a futuristic design.”
Rydahl’s Planet Kosmos is free across the internet, but both Kanye and Simons reached out to get the font licensed from him for commercial use, he says. The only compensation that Rydahl asks for in return is a “Compact Disc with something you love or have created yourself.” Rydahl has received art projects, reggae albums, and, from Simons, a disc with the actual designs on it. (We have reached out to Simons to confirm this.) He’s also been promised a couple of Simons’s shirts once they’re released.
Rydahl balked at wondering what these designers saw in his design. “They did not elaborate, and I am no expert on fashion design,” he says. Sarah Hyndman, author of Why Fonts Matter, though, was willing to fill in the blanks. She suggests that Kanye’s use of the font is “purely style.” “The typeface mirrors the Adidas logo stripes, and its forward sloping angle suggests movement and speed — perfect for sportswear,” she explains. “The sci-fi feel also suggests that Adidas products are high-tech and advanced.”
Hyndman also notes that Planet Kosmos is a “a really modern and minimalist version of a Blackletter typeface.” It adds an entirely new layer because, Hyndman says, the Old English lettering created by artist Cali Thornhill DeWitt and used on Kanye’s Pablo range is also a Blackletter-inspired type. Kanye, whether he knows it or not (he knows it), certainly has an eye for keeping with a theme.
From here, Hyndman expects Planet Kosmos to blow up the same way Old English did. “You will find that once a typeface is being used in a context (fashion in this instance), graphic designers will naturally pick up on this, often unconsciously, and it can become a trend.”