Is it just me, or are designer collaborations becoming more frequent?
It seems that in the past few years we’ve seen such a steady increase in the number of luxury brand partnerships that I’ve honestly begun to lose count. What use to be the occasional limited edition Louis Vuitton collab has now turned into a barrage of Gucci X Balenciaga, Fendi X Skims, Telfar X Converse, Dior X Stussy, Gucci X The North Face and so and so forth.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember a time when something from a brand like Gucci or Fendi had enough prestige to stand out on its own. What changed?
Of course, collaborations happened sometimes, but much more infrequently and always within the same category of the apparel market. Now we don’t just see high-end brands occasionally linking up with direct competitors but crossing over into completely new segments of the fashion market to get their name in front of a new group of consumers.
But why did this start happening?
I have a few thoughts.
Newer, Faster, Better
Now I’m only making an educated guess, but there are a couple of potential reasons that came to mind when I was thinking about why the number of collabs seemed to have increased:
If it’s a high-end brand collaborating with another high-end brand, it could potentially be a way to solve the problem of look-a-like designs. Almost every brand has some kind of crossbody flap bag, so slapping another brand’s name or insignia on it is a surefire way to set both brands apart from the rest.
Streetwear and fast fashion brands have started to give high-end brands a run for their money, forcing them to adapt to consumers’ constant demand for newness.
Most people don’t strictly wear designer clothing, and it’s not uncommon for people to mix high-end with mid-range or low-end. A luxury brand collaborating with a beloved mid-range brand keeps the high-end brand from falling too far into the category of “special occasion” wear or being seen as something exclusively for the (declining) privileged few.
But when did this all start?
If I had to pinpoint when this whole era of constant collaboration began, I’d probably say sometime around 2017 (again, please correct me if you disagree.) Why?
Probably because of the brand, Supreme.
The Supremely Saturated Market
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike Supreme; I think it’s young and fun. However, Supreme showed us (and the luxury execs) that if people think a brand is cool enough, creative teams could put the brand name or logo on literally anything, and people would still buy it and be willing to pay high-end prices to boot.
At some point, anything that the Supreme logo graced became an instant collector’s item that “hypebeast” fashion lovers couldn’t wait to get their hands on.
I’m not saying that this is a good or a bad thing, just that if I was the head of XYZ luxury brand, I’d definitely start paying attention.
All in all, there are some brand collaborations that I do really like (usually those that promote the work of visual artists.) I still think the 2020 Fendi X Joshua Vides collection is to die for.
I guess I just hope that our favorite brands’ don’t get too caught up in their attempts at staying fresh and risk losing their own identities in the increasingly intermixed global fashion industry.
What do you all think?
Are you down for all these designer collabs, or are some brands now relying a little too much on the namesake of others to bolster their own image? What’s been your favorite or least favorite collab so far? Do any pieces have special places in your collection?