What’s behind luxury brand fashion collaborations
Mexico – At first glance, fashion collaborations may seem like an exciting way to generate new business and increase sales. Whether the collaboration is relatively obvious, like Gucci and Adidas, or something more surprising, like Crocs and Balenciaga or Alexander McQueen and Target, there is no doubt that they create interest, usually in terms of generating new customers. And it’s relatively clear that when it comes to luxury brands collaborating with mainstream brands, the goal is to connect with the aspirational customer.
Do you prefer to listen? The full podcast on what makes a fashion collaboration successful is here.
Digging a little deeper, the effectiveness of these collaborations and their ability to truly capture new customers and increase sales is dubious at best, especially for the luxury brand. It’s not like the typical Target customer suddenly shopping at a McQueen boutique and paying thousands of dollars more for an item that was under $100 at Target. In fact, for many brands, these high-end collaborations often raise standards to a level that cannot be easily or consistently recreated. This forces luxury brands to pursue their business, which is not the modus operandi of luxury brands and their quest for exclusivity. Generally these collaborations are a sign that not everything is going well with a brand, and that,
Take Gucci’s recent collaboration with Adidas as an example. Although this relationship is more obvious than others, if anything, it reinforces that the only difference between $75 Adidas sneakers, which already come with a cultural influence, and the Gucci version, is the logo, the colors of the mark, the decorative details and a label of more than 800 dollars. Despite the talk about the values of “authenticity” and “transparency”, this seems to be the opposite: proof that luxury is based more on “smoke and mirrors” than any real differentiation of quality. If there’s a winner in all of this, it’s that Adidas sneakers are still big business. This may be oversimplifying things, but looking at the luxury market in general,
Another important component to keep in mind when it comes to these types of collaborations is that most of these luxury brands are now owned by LVMH or the Kering Group. This allows them to play these types of games, without necessarily making a real profit for the brand itself. It is more of a game to keep these brands relevant while they may underperform. After all, fashion is a cycle, and what is expected is that these brands will once again have their opportunity to have cultural weight. In the end, it’s easier to resurrect a legacy luxury brand than it is to create a new one.