Within the past week, you might have heard about Uniqlo’s upcoming Pokémon collection. The collection that came about as a result of Uniqlo’s annual design competition (UT Grand Prix), was entirely designed by artists from around the world.
All the winners had their designs licensed and turned into actual shirts. The grand prize winner supposedly won additional bonuses as well, such as a cash prize, and having their shirt design appear in the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield.
However, it seems like that won’t be the case anymore.
In a recent turn of events, grand prize winner Li Pen Wei was disqualified from the competition. His design – a totem-pole inspired design of three Margikarp and a Gyarados – had already been published before!
Li had previously used the design on smartphone cases and T-shirts that he sold in China. This makes his entry a violation of the contest rules, which states that all designs must be new, and must not have been published (i.e used and sold) before.
Uniqlo has since stripped Li of his prize, and dropped his T-shirt design from the upcoming collection.
Was this the only disqualification?
However, Li wasn’t the only designer to break the rules. U.K. designer AJ Hateley submitted a shadowy Mewtwo-themed design (Detective Pikachu, or first Pokémon movie vibes, anyone?) that Uniqlo was ready to release in two different colours.
However, Hateley had also already been selling the design as a T-shirt on his own, from as far back as 2016! Much like Li, Hateley’s designs will be dropped from the collection as well.
Uniqlo themselves have issued a statement regarding these recent events, saying:
“On May 20, we announced the winners of the Pokémon-themed UT Grand Prix 2019. We have since confirmed that the grand prize-winning design, as well as one other winner, were in violation of the contest rules. The designers’ awards and prizes have been retracted and their shirts will not be sold. No grand prize will be awarded for the contest.
We apologize to fans of the designers, expectant retailers and customers, and anyone else affected by this. We will take thorough measures to ensure this situation does not occur in future contests.”
It is unclear whether the two designers intended to break the rules, or whether they just failed to read the contest’s rules before submitting their designs. In any case, while their designs won’t be part of Uniqlo’s latest collection, at least the other 22 are still safe.