Collaborations have become a staple of fashion these days. Fashion retail brands and musicians, high fashion brands and street wear brands, sports brands and high fashion brands and so on. Within this myriad of collaborations, there are very few winners. There are a lot of senseless juxtaposition of brand identities, some plain lazy attempts by two brands to symbiotically feed off each other’s clout and some that were forgotten as quickly as they were released.
So what makes a fashion collaboration so great? What makes the union of two brands seem like a match made in heaven or a masterpiece painted by two classical artists from different eras?
The first thing is that the brands have to ask themselves this question: What products or pieces can carry their DNA equally? One simple example of this is the Nike x Supreme AF1. The AF1 is the perfect canvas for the supreme logo featured on the heel. The sneaker comes in the classic white and a black iteration. The supreme laces also satisfy the logo obsessed supreme fans.
This concept can be taken further when the collaboration not only carries the physical DNA of both brands but also their ethos. Case in point is the Dior x Air Jordan 1. This sneaker is the perfect marriage between the Dior luxury ethos and the sporting functionality of the Air Jordan. Crafted entirely in Italy with white and grey leather, it features a Dior monogram in the swish logo. A beautiful translucent outer sole and the Air Jordan logo on the ankle reworked into “Air Dior” are all a testament to the saying “the devil is in the details”.
The second thing applies mainly to collaborations between fashion/sports brands and musicians/celebrities, but does still apply largely to fashion collaborations. When partnering with celebrities, it is not enough to simply attach the name and image of the celebrity to the pieces. The make-up industry seems to understand this, but a lot of fashion retail brands are in the habit of doing these one off collaborations where they just slap these celebrity names and faces on a collection of pieces that have nothing of the essence of the artist in them.
The Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk low is a great example of the magic that can happen when a brand allows an artist to have considerable creative input and craft a piece imbued with the spirit of the artist involved in the collaboration. I dare say that the only other Nike collaboration with a musician I would place over this sneaker is the Yeezy red October, another sneaker that is forever canonized in the great hall of grail sneakers.
The third and final thing is the marketing. The marketing has to be able to give the vibe created by the marriage of the brands. The Aime Leon Dore x New Balance S/S 20 collaboration is the perfect example of this. The images of an elderly couple is definitely not what you expect but that only makes it even more memorable, not to mention the impeccable styling and copy. This is a masterclass in fashion marketing in my opinion.
In closing I feel like these are the three things a good collaboration should have. This whole article was inspired by the Zegna x FOG collection. I can only describe it as the juxtaposition of the finest sartorial looks and principles with the laid back luxe LA vibe that Jerry Lorenzo’s FOG brings. It’s definitely my favourite collaboration of the year and perhaps of all time or until someone does something else that blows my mind even further. This collaboration fully embodies all the principles I have mentioned above.