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In 2004, former Von Dutch designer Christian Audigier bought the rights to the Japanese-inspired designs of retired tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy and parlayed them into another celebrity-courting clothing line. The brand’s two New York locations peddle a Hollywood glam-rock aesthetic, with lifelike mannequins sprawled about wearing skull tees and crystal-studded hats as well as a large collection of celebrity photos—mainly Madonna—covering the walls. The best sellers are colorful T-shirts bearing the brand’s slogan, “Love Kills Slowly,” along with blingy jeweled hats for more than $100 each. Like Audigier’s Von Dutch designs, Hardy pieces are heavily branded, with bold, full-color embroidery or crystal detailing spanning the back pockets of jeans, skimpy bathing suits illustrated with tigers and roses, and embroidered leather flasks scripted with the artist’s name. Even shelves of kid-size onesies and polos near the register feature tattooed butterflies and bandanna-wearing bulldogs. Hardy’s signature Asian influence is most visible in tees and hoodies adorned with geishas or bright-orange koi.
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