Why there are more fashion brand collaborations than ever right now
The key to any brand success is remaining relevant to the target consumer and resonating with them through culture and consumer needs. This is even more vital in the heavily saturated world of media and in a time when consumer demands are amidst a shift as a result of the global pandemic. It could be for these reasons why in the last year, there has been a surge in fashion industry brands collaborating.
Perhaps we’ve learnt that unless we stand together, we fall apart. And that a successful creative collaboration can generate a serious buzz.
Amber Coleman, Senior Account Executive, looks at some of the more recent fashion collaborations to date and discusses why luxury brands are choosing to collaborate with the mass market.
Why do fashion brands collaborate with each other?
Collaborations are important for brands as they enable reach to a new audience. More crucially for fashion brands, collaborations unlock the ability to deliver a collection that is outside of their typical design, in a refreshing and different style. Typically collaborations are very much a short term phenomenon, lasting a season, which also puts emphasis on the limited edition nature. As such they sell out fast which drives further brand hype.
To Reach “Aspirational” Audiences
Yes collaborations reach new audiences, but one trend we’re seeing in particular for Luxury is the chance to cast the net wider, reaching the Aspirational Audience. The Aspirational Audiences are those who typically cannot afford Luxury but aspire to the brands, the lifestyle, the look. It’s a key market, with37% of global consumers fitting into this category – a huge audience for brands to be tapping into.
Swedish fast-fashion brand, H&M, has collaborated with many designers over the years: Pringle of Scotland (2021), Giambattista Valli (2019), Moschino (2018), Erden (2017), Kenzo (2016), Balmain (2015), Alexander Wang (2014) and Isabel Marant (2013) and it’s these collections which lead to mass queues to the stores on the morning of the collections launching and most of the collections selling out.
This high fashion meets low fashion creates exposure and publicity for both H&M and the designer, and ultimately provides new reach to the lower end of the market. Much like a Venn diagram, there will be an overlap of fans of both brands, but there will likely be a growth in new customers.
Another example is , Byredo’s, Ben Gorham, collaborated with Ikea to create a more affordable line of the brand’s cult-favorite candles. Gorham and Ikea collaborated on a scented candle line, called Osynlig. Similar to the H&M, Byredo engages with the aspirational audience by creating an affordable product; portraying high end design and quality to consumers at an affordable price point.
What about Luxury Reputation?
From our State of Luxe Research that a High Price Point being deemed as a core factor to Luxury is low – and much lower amongst younger demographics. What makes something Luxury to the Gen Z and Millennial consumer is not about the cost but rather about the quality of something and that thing adding value above the rest of the market.
Collaborations provide Exclusivity and Scarcity
Some luxury brands are creating a sense of exclusivity and scarcity for their audiences, driving demand for the product even higher. We saw this with the Dior and Nike collaboration on the Air Jordan 1 High OG Dior limited-edition sneaker. The sneaker was designed by creative director Kim Jones during Dior’s pre-fall 2020 show. In total 13,000 pairs of the sneakers were produced and priced at $2,000 for the low-top version and $2,200 for the high-top version.
Dior launched an online draw in June 2021 (delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic), creating a dedicated microsite where customers could register to purchase the sneaker. Dior’s president, Pietro Beccari, told WWD that five million people registered on the microsite upon the site’s launch. The limited range of sneakers has increased high demand for the product. The fashion collaboration shows how brands can create extreme hype and demand when done properly. Dior and Nike, two massive style brands in different markets coming together and merging “luxury streetwear”.
The New Gen Z Conscious Audiences
Luxury brands are also collaborating with alternative brands in order to reach Gen Z audiences. A great example is the collaboration between Gucci x The North Face, announced in November 2020 on Gen Z’s playground, TikTok, with the campaign celebrating the great outdoors. The capsule collection between Gucci and The North Face arrived at a moment when luxury brand revenues had slowed down because of the pandemic. An interesting collaboration, as in my opinion The North Face is portrayed as a fearless and relatable brand compared to the super glamorous Gucci. But for Gucci, connecting with a brand that has serious sustainable bonafides tells an important story to younger audiences who value and demand environmental stewardship from brands. For The North Face, the collection reinvigorates the gotta-have-it factor that High Fashion brings, and that Gucci delivers with a free-spirited campaign that drives cultural relevance so critical to this audience.
The #thenorthfacexgucci gained over 8.6m views on TikTok, which shows the popularity among stylish Gen-Z TikTok stars and celebrities. There is no question this collaboration has a huge driving force in reaching younger audiences. Especially post-COVID, the data overwhelmingly shows that Gen Z prefers brands that stand for something and that live up to their values through action, with 89% expressing brand preference for brands that seek to help solve community problems. This brand collaboration example shows brands don’t need to reinvent themselves to attract Gen Z, but they do need to meet this generation that live to support and connect.
It’s worth noting this is not The North Face’s first Luxury Fashion collaboration rodeo. Last year, MM6 Maison Margiela launched a collection with the brand. The collection again connected North Face to high fashion, establishing its design prowess amongst the style conscious yet active consumer.
Fashion Brands Collaborate with Influencers
Beyond brands collaborating with other brands to reach a new audience and establish cross-sector credentials, we’re seeing more and more brands collaborating with Influencers. It’s not just other brands who have highly engaged audiences – arguably, it is influencers who have higher engagement than brands. It’s this recipe which is seeing brands sell out collections even before they have launched. We’re due to share a blog post on this with some great examples, so stay tuned.
Brand Collaborations are enabling brands to create in sectors they wouldn’t traditionally have ventured, giving them access to a newer (and in many cases younger) audiences, and often shifting the brand market perception, creating cultural relevance. For the consumer, collaborations are too, created new and
exciting products and experiences.
Here at VERB we pride ourselves as luxury experts, and have a deep passion for staying connected to what the market is doing and where it is going. If you’re looking for some advice or are keen to explore how to collaborate with influencer talent,we are here to help. Get in touch – we’d love to hear from you!