What fashion month taught us about collaboration

The Fall/Winter 2022 runway season proved just how groundbreaking internet collaborations continue to bring fashion to the forefront of popular culture, with Burberry x Supreme and Gucci x adidas flooding everyone’s feeds.

Becoming the trending topic on social networks, in the West as in China, remains a primary objective for luxury; the collections are therefore increasingly aimed at a wider audience of non-fashion consumers. As a result, sportswear collaborations dominated the catwalk: emerging talents clashing with big names like Robyn Lynch x Columbia, established houses such as Roksanda and Fila joining together, and MM6 Margiela teaming up with Salomon. Chinese designer Feng Chen Wang was sure to flaunt her Beijing 2022 Olympic uniform as well during the F/W22 presentation.

Fashion and culture journalist Eugene Rabkin explained to Collaborations and Jing drops, “All collaborations aim to create a medium, and therefore a moment of brand awareness.” He underlined that selling is not a primary motivation when it comes to luxury collaborations, specifying that it is ultimately always about the marketing activity.

Although sports-fashion crossovers have been able to prove their promotional value, many designers have tapped into cultural capital and artist fanbases, while others, such as Dior and the Chinese womenswear brand ANNAKIKI, has strived to innovate in disruptive ways through technology partnerships. As always, the companies have also tapped external partners for products they can’t necessarily create to the same level in-house, like the Rick Owens x Aesop line (released March 21) or the catwalk leather pumpkins. Loewe designed by British artist Anthea Hamilton.

With StockX reporting a 200% increase in collaborations from 2019 to 2021, F/W22 has proven that growth remains consistent. In conversation with fashion critic Eugene Rabkin and Iolo Edwards of High Fashion Talk, here are the collab trends of the season and three leading examples of each.

Tendency: Sportswear

Objective: Calling Generation Z

Combined reach of Gucci x adidas, Moonboot x Palm Angels and MM6 Maison Margiela x Salomon: More than 199 billion

Much like Rabkin described Gucci x adidas, sportswear collaborations allow institutions to reach an audience that might not be comfortable shopping for high fashion. He said: “I find it strange that the fashion industry over the past five years has decided that the fashionable young consumer is the target audience. Last time I checked, older people have a lot more money.

Alessandro Michele combines the sportswear codes of adidas with the emblematic silhouettes of Gucci.

And Palm Angels’ tie-dye Moonboots exemplify that Gen Z motivation. one of the people’s favorite shoes right now with global shopping app Lyst reporting that searches for the two establishments increased by 18% and 21% respectively in the week following the Milan show.

MM6 Maison Margiela x Salomon also proved the advertising appeal of sportswear, with searches for French sportswear brands increasing by 71% and those for MM6 jumping by 59% just 48 hours after the reveal.

A scan of the internet around the date of the Gucci x adidas collection was enough to prove just how viral this go. Still, Edwards argued that he was exceptionally smart in terms of actual design: “He took into account what clients wanted from a collaboration. The two brands intersect in terms of the products they make; some of Gucci’s best-selling items are tracksuits that closely resemble adidas in luxury fabrication. There is a shared point of reference of this non-specific nostalgia gained by adidas through its integral positioning in these key moments; early hip hop, B-Boys, 70s rock stars, etc., which are also key reference points for Alessandro’s designs at Gucci.

Tendency: Artists

Objective: New creativity and new fanbases

Combined litter of Stella McCartney x Frank Stella, Dolce & Gabbana x Gianpiero D’Alessandro and RAY CHU x Draw Me Denis: 2.6 million

Another collaborative trend, with less potential for internet disruption but arguably equal cultural capital: brand x artist crossovers. After the recent Ed Curtis collection, Stella McCartney chose to join 85-year-old American artist Frank Stella for a dynamic F/W22, tapping into her established global fan base and inviting new prints and textures.

Still largely irrelevant to Chinese consumers, Dolce & Gabbana has teamed up with Drew House (Justin Bieber) cartoonist Gianpiero D’Alessandro. Edwards saw it as a push for the label to have a place in pop culture: “In the age of social media, the brand understands that money is not at the forefront, but in the mainstream with the most followers. When considering how art can reach the masses, the selection of artists would naturally be associated with one of the biggest pop stars in the world. With the growth and hype around NFTs, the focus is on art to build communities and followers, often engaging young people in art for the first time.

Another highlight came from Taiwanese designer RAY CHU’s collaboration with emerging LGBTQIA+ artist Draw Me Denis, who shares the former’s progressive and positively conscious ethos as an A-Gender label. The collection follows previous work with erotic artist Pigo Lin for AW21, showing how RAY CHU obviously finds its brand identity in other art forms. to connect with like-minded fans as the creators.

Tendency: Technology

Objective: Innovation

Combined reach of Jenn Lee x Renovatio Pictures, Dior x Dynamic Autonomy x D-AIR LAB and ANNAKIKI x supramolecule.lab: 1.3 billion

NFTs and AI haven’t yet taken over fashion month as far as some might have predicted, but there were still a few high-tech reveals. Taiwanese designer Jenn Lee launched a virtual reality game in partnership with Renovatio Pictures as part of her digital presentation at London Fashion Week, placing physical pieces into her own virtual world and giving consumers the ability to view them on real people at the same time.

Taking the extreme weather outerwear trend up a notch, Dior’s collaboration with Dynamic Autonomy and D-AIR LABORATORY innovated with wearable technology. Rabkin noted that this reflected a very contemporary way of dressing, as “it’s marrying aesthetics and functionality”. According to Lyst, after Dior’s show, the “techwear” theme left shoppers begging for more, reporting that motorcycle gloves were up 50% and matching jackets jumped 41% in seven days.

Dior’s collaboration with the D-Air laboratory integrates high-tech airbags into its couture constructions. Photo: Dior

Edwards, on the other hand, pointed to the irony that fashion is so behind when it comes to technology: late to embracing social media, now striving for relevance in the metaverse. — wWith NFT progressions such as ANNAKIKI joining digital haute couture lab supramolecule.lab to release its virtual collection at Milan Fashion Week.

He continued, “Collaboration is a key element in how small brands should move forward to enter the metaverse; tech expertise can be brought in but also, as a collaboration, the company combines the authenticity of key tech players with their own reputation and values, starting immediately with greater respect in the Web 3.0 culture. Overall, fashion’s problem with technology is not knowing how to deal with it, which has led them to ignore it rather than find solutions to participate in developments that will most likely benefit them and , eventually, will happen regardless.

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