Brand collaborations are not a new thing, but in the last 3 years they have been increasingly utilised by big names to drive organic growth across both existing and new brands, in the face of slumps in consumer spending and reliance on sales. In fact, Google found that fashion collaborations were ranking higher than their solo counterparts in search. Whether brands are seeking audience volume reach, tapping into a new type of customer, or positive image association, that varies.
This growth in popularity of this strategy has, in part I believe, been driven by social media. The reason I believe this is three fold:
1. The structure is similar to influencer social media strategies. Influencers (for example this is commonly used on YouTube) create collaborative content in order to cross-pollinate and share their audiences. The majority of the time, the partners will be aligned with similar audiences in terms of demographic and interests but ultimately minimal cross-over, meaning the opportunity is great for both partners
2. Collabs are often communicated, shared and hyped by social media. It’s the viral effect. It works just as well for Rainbow Bagels as it does for limited edition merch and exclusive pop-ups.
3. Reinvigoration of a brand is sometimes as simple as refreshed packaging but can have huge benefits in terms of perception and consideration. Other times, it’s a rap song – see the most unexpected collaboration of all time: Kool Aid X Lil Jon.
Social media-hyped collabs drip with an element of exclusivity – of finding out about something as soon as it happens and being lucky enough to grab a limited edition item.
CROCS X POST MALONE
A great example of this is Crocs x Post Malone. On the surface this seems like a ridiculous collaboration. The truth is, Post Malone is an actual fan of Crocs. He wears them everywhere. As such, his fans know this is a genuine partnership and not something he’s just been paid millions to endorse. And they went wild. I detest crocs and I still kinda wanted in on it.
H&M X MOSHINO
Over the years, H&M have done a great job of brining in high end designers like Moshino or Balmain to design a range of couture high-street that has been a huge hit with their customers. By doing this, they’re not only associating these high-end couture labels with their low-end store, but also making something assessable to their customers that they can’t access anywhere else (even if it is more expensive than the average H&M product). I can tell you from experience that H&M X Moshino was IMPOSSIBLE to get hands on, but hey, that’s the kind of exclusivity that makes these collabs work well.
TFL X ADIDAS
I could not write this post without mentioning the TFL x Adidas collaboration that happened this year. Again this seems so strange – a government owned transport network partnering with one of the most popular sports and athleisure brands. Personally I think it’s genius. It taps into people’s nostalgia and desire to feel part of something – as each trainer in the collection represents a different tube line. It just makes the tube feel cooler, doesn’t it?
PORNHUB X RICHARDSON
In a more unusual collaboration, PornHub (the online pornography website) partnered with Richardson (the uber cool streetwear brand) to create a line of clothing centred around erotica and sexuality. I’m not sure who would wear a $140 PornHub hoodie in public, but hey they’re all sold out. For me this tabs into the Gen Z obsession with merch – but I plan to do a whole other post on that so I won’t get into it here.
BARBOUR X LAND ROVER
A partnership that makes complete sense is that of Barbour and Land Rover. I think anyone who owns a Land Rover must also own a Barbour Jacket – it’s pretty much the law. These brands perfectly complement each other, and therefore this is more of a growth through productive innovation strategy than one to capture new audiences.
This partnership works both ways, with Barbour having a range of Land Rover clothes, and Land Rover producing a Barbour Defender (which I really want).
In a similar vein, it’s my personal opinion that Patagonia X Jeep would be an epic collaboration. Two companies known for their love of adventure and the outdoors. Can you imagine a Jeep decorated in Patagonia’s wacky style? Insane.
CHRISSY TEIGEN X TARGET
For my last call out of this post, I wanted to feature a collaboration range I wish was available for me to buy. The accessible, hilarious and bubbly personality of Chrissy Teigen, partnered with the everyman store of Target is the perfect partnership. In the last few years, Chrissy has gained respect for her cooking and indulgent recipes, so this range of high quality but practical cook-wear is a natural progression and the ideal collection for a store like Target to feature.
Can’t wait to see what collabs 2019 brings! Literally as I was writing this post, Primark announced a full range collaboration with Miss Gloria Design, known for their illustration style women-focused and often satirical designs. Interesting!
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