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Nike and Tiffany paring not so legendary, as collab faces backlash

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |Opinion

Image: Nike x Tiffany & Co. Air Force 1 1837 via Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany and Nike have launched a new collaboration. Not everyone is enthralled.

LVMH has invested heavily in the marketing activations of Tiffany, the American jewellery business it acquired in 2021, in order to give it a modern and international allure.

Tiffany’s Executive Vice President of Products and Communication, Alexandre Arnault, son of LVMH founder Bernard Arnault, has made it a point to attract a younger consumer, specifically focusing on celebrity-led activations, which began with the brand’s About Love campaign which contracted Beyoncé and Jay Z as ambassadors.

Celebrity sells

Tiffany has since featured a roster of celebrities in its ads, including Gal Gadot, Hailey Bieber, Zoe Kravitz, Janelle Monae and Elle Fanning to name but a few. All of which have millions of social media followers. Working with photographers such as Mario Sorrenti, famous for his Calvin Klein adverts, is also driving the refresh momentum, as the efforts of a global comms strategy come to light.

Attracting a younger customer to buy into a heritage jeweller that needs dusting off is no mean feat. To make it appealing beyond the Americas is another challenge. Mr Arnault and his marketing team have also gone the obvious route of streetwear collaborations, taking a note out of Louis Vuitton and Fendi’s playbooks, and dropping co-labs with Supreme, once the ultimate underground skater brand, and now Nike.

To an older generation, Tiffany is known for its pearls, lockets and blue boxes, and that’s the image it is keen to shed. “We’re trying, little by little, to take advantage of everything Tiffany has been doing over the last 200 years as the only American luxury brand, and bring it into the current moment, making it part of cultural zeitgeist” Mr Arnault said.

With the new Nike partnership, one of the most widely recognised mass market brands, tapping into that consumer base could reap rewards down the line. Even if brand collaborations are a crowded landscape, there is novelty in brands pairing up and creating a new synergy, none more notable than the Haider Ackermann collection for Jean Paul Gaultier shown during Paris haute couture last month.

But Nike and Tiffany's collab is not on that level. The sneaker collection, which riffs mostly off Tiffany’s signature blue hue, features an Air Force 1 model in nubuck with a blue swoosh. In the campaign it is photographed against the same colour background and comes in a blue box, tagged with the line “A legendary pair.” The Business of Fashion labelled the product a misfire, without any synergy. Many agreed.

Image: Nike x Tiffany via Facebook

What is legendary?

“The box is more appealing than the shoe,” says one Instagram user. Another wrote: “I expected so much more than this. This is a no. Take it back to the studio. The designers didn’t want to make the effort.”

Others gave design tips: “White satin laces and/or bow tied around the box, replacing the AF1 laces with a sterling silver Return to Tiffany’s tag (bonus for customised engraving.)”

A brand alliance should spark the imagination, especially from two brands that are indeed legendary. This collaboration resonates of a disjointed marriage that whiffs of a marketing ploy more than a genuine paring of brands. And there is nothing legendary about that.

Alexandre Arnault
Tiffany & Co.