What’s On Our Mind in The World of Luxury? Brand Collabs!
Over the last decade, collaborations between luxury and streetwear brands have proliferated to the point that partnerships, which would have seemed unimaginable at one point, are now commonplace. Think of Louis Vuitton/Birkenstock, Gucci/Northface, and Crocs/Christopher Kane.
At first, the unexpected and original character of these collabs brought freshness and street cred to luxury brands, positioning them as a little “rebellious”, contrary to their generally traditional image. At the same time, it gave “street” brands luxury cachet and the ability to upscale their products on quality and prices.
However, it feels as if we might have reached a saturation point. The novelty has worn off, and customers are experiencing “collab fatigue”. As luxury brands are up-leveling, could it actually be that collabs are becoming dilutive to luxury brands?
Instead of the high-low collaboration trend, we are seeing a tendency for luxury brands to partner up with other luxury brands in complementary industry segments. The rationale behind these collabs is less to engage a new and younger target group but to penetrate deeper into existing demographics by engaging core customers across segments and strengthening their loyalty.
The recipe for successful collaborations includes key ingredients like sense, strategy, and story. The collab must “make sense” in the eyes of the customer, and the connection between the brands be logical. A clear strategy around value creation must exist to justify the collab. And finally, the story must resonate and be believable. A few good examples include:
- Bentley and Macallan, the well-known ultra-luxury carmaker and a storied whisky producer, teamed up to create an unusual whisky bottle reminiscent of an elegant car.
- Louis Vuitton/Takashi Murakami and Louis Vuitton/Yayoi Kusama are successful examples of luxury brand/artist collaboration due to their symbiotic nature and intuitive logic (i.e., blending art with design).
- Moncler Genius Project, where different designers, including Pierpaolo Piccoli, Simone Rocha, and Craig Green, has been infusing new collections with different personalities and points of view in keeping with the Moncler DNA.
- Hermès teamed up with Apple to create leather goods for Apple products, an intuitively appealing collaboration that tapped into the popularity of “designer” tech products.
And sometimes, luxury brands’ strategy might simply involve taking a break when collab fatigue has set in, focusing on a brand’s own DNA and stories, and going back to the basics.