The fashion industry has been dominated by the letter X. Supreme x Louis Vuitton, Crocs x Post Malone, H&M x Love Stories, Burberry x Vivienne Westwood. Fashion is all about collaborations these days and it looks like the trend isn’t going anywhere in 2019. In a survey of 149 fashion and beauty brand executives, conducted by Glossy, 38 percent of respondents said the companies they work for plan to launch a collaborative product or collection this year. Of those surveyors, 41 percent work in fashion. Collaborations were deemed the best marketing opportunity in 2019, surpassing pop-up stores, events and store openings.
Why are fashion brands so keen on collaborations?
While teaming up with another label is nothing new, social media is to blame for brands’ increased willingness to work together. More and more consumers turn to platforms like Facebook and Instagram to discover new products and brands, but those platforms have been decreasing the visibility of organic posts looking to get more ad revenue. Collaborating with another brand that shares a similar target audience is, therefore, a great way to get more eyeballs on a product release. For Ana Roncha, Course Leader of the master’s degree in Strategic Fashion Marketing at London College of Fashion, social networks, especially Instagram, “have helped to foster strategies such as product drops, collaborations, flash sales and limited editions”. Double the audience, double the exposure.
For Joanne Yulan Jong, founder of strategic fashion brand consultancy Yulan Creative, one of the main reasons why consumers are attracted to fashion collaborations is because it looks advantageous: it gives them the feeling of buying two brands for the price of one. “Even though the price tag can be the same, if not more, the customer somehow feels they will wear it more”.
However, teaming up is only effective when done right. Brands must carefully choose their partners, as collaborations that don’t look genuine may fall flat. “Look to collaborate with brands that align with your own, or whose values are akin to yours. What your customer should take from any collab is that you understand them even better than they thought you did, aiming at them with items tailored to their lifestyle”, recommends Nick Paget, Senior Menswear Editor at WGSN.
While fashion is likely to continue to see a plethora of Xs in 2019, the strategy may lose its power when everyone is collaborating with everyone. That’s why we’re already seeing brands tweaking the strategy to make it more impactful, be it by establishing long-term collaborations or working with unexpected sectors on unusual products. Think of home goods giant Ikea inviting Saville Row tailor William Hunt to design suits matching the retailer’s bedding -- uncharted waters for both. Similarly, domestic appliances brand Smeg tapped compatriots Dolce & Gabbana for a Sicily-inspired kitchen appliances line. A few months ago, Gucci designed a limited-edition book cover for Florence Welch’s poetry book, published by Penguin Books. It looks like collaborating alone will eventually cease to surprise, and brands will be required to think outside the box together.
Pictures: courtesy of Burberry, courtesy of Ikea, courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana