What’s good people?
Your boy Fin here jumping back on this blog today to bring you all the in’s and out’s of the inescapable trend that is fashion “collabs”. Unless you have managed to avoid any form of social or mainstream media (in which case bravo to you 👏🏻) then I’m presuming your aware of a shoe commonly referred to as ‘the Yeezy’
Pictured above: The unmistakable Yeez 350 Boost
This shoe has become an phenomenon within its own right, selling out upon every release and maintaining its incredibly high price tag in the resale market, despite massively dividing opinions on how aesthetic it really is. As described by Robin Givhan, fashion editor for The Washington Post, – “Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 4 was worse than bad. It was boring”. Nonetheless the collaboration of Addidas and Kayne West on this one has been nothing more than a stroke of genius, even if for no other reason than its ever presence in the media and pop-culture. This has done wonders for not only brand recognition but also addidas’ ability to drive up price and margin on more high-end product.
Now if we take the aforementioned ‘Yeezy’ concept as our case study (think fashion as a leaving cert’ subject here), then it is a prime example of showcasing all the positives that a solid collaboration can bring to the involved brands.
Positive #1 – A sure fire weigh to slap a juicy old price tag on something. Collab’ are generally marketed as ‘one-off’ or rare lines to attract the interest of the HYPE community, (which is a whoooole other blog post in-itself) it also gives the perception that said items are now infinitely more valuable as they have never gone into mass production. Pictured below is one of the best examples of this ideal in practise with the illustrious “Air Jordan 4 – Eminem X Carhartt” collab’ priced at an astonishing €13,999 dollars, paying testament to how valuable these collaborative ventures can prove to be.
Pictured above: Air Jordan retro 4 Carhartt X Eminem. Is any ship worth that money?
Picture above: Skepta holding his “Air Max ’97 X SKair” which dropped September ’17.
Positive #2 – Infection of a new market or niche. The competition between these brands for our cold hard cash and our short lived attention spans is a ruthless and never-ending one. They are forced to claw for every inch of market share available to them and one innovative way this has been been done is through the hacking and reverse-engineering of sub-cultures or trends. Excuse me while I get a bit nerdy with all this. Marketeers within these colossal brands are constantly on the look for what may be the next big thing transitioning from sub-culture to pop-culture and if they can get in early enough on these and strategically aligns themselves with the fans of said trend it can be an ingenious way to capture the minds and more importantly the wallets of us, the poor Lemming-like consumer. What do Nike stand to gain from giving Skepta his own shoe? (Apart from guaranteed sales as they’re fire) They gain the immediate attention and potential spend of any Skepta fan who has supported him musically in his meteoric rise to the top. What do Fila stand to gain from giving Marvel Comics Godfather, Stan Lee, his own shoe? Well what about the potential piggy back on the runaway train that is the Marvel movie series as well as hacking the most likely undiluted market of shoes for comic book nerds.
Picture above: The very diligent assimilation of sneaker heads and comic book fans.
However it must be noted, it is not all sunshine and lollipops in the world of fashion collabs and one should treat lightly when choosing when and where to dip their toe in the water. Often some of the positives mentioned above can counter-intuitively be negatives for us as the consumer. Let’s take the point of increased margin and price tag, well theoretically that makes some sense as lower production quantities should directly affect cost price however as the consumer we are often left completely in the dark in terms of the mark-up being applied to these niche products. We may be told we are buying a “once-off, never before seen, limited edition, super rare” piece but do all these buzz words equal a higher quality item, or are they just adjectives used to attain a higher perceived value?
Pictured above: The illusive Louis Vuitton X Supreme box logo hoodie which can be found reselling for $25,000 on eBay.
Moreover are we allowing ourselves to be too easily dictated to in terms of what is ‘cool’ and what is just downright absurd? Case in point, Vetements X Carhartt. Now I’m mindful to the fact that the clothes that are often marched down runaways and fashion shows around the world are not always intended for mass public consumption and are to be viewed often as ‘conceptual’ garments, however whether this gives lisence to brands to put something together as slapstick (IMO obviously) as Vetements X Carhartt is debatable and is showing the less successful side of collabs’ (again IMO).
Picture above: The iconic Hamilton Brown Carhartt overalls with a ‘twist’ 🙄
My final word to the wise on today’s collab’ culture would be in relation to what is seemingly organic in its nature as opposed to those that are irrefutably marketeer-made constructs for us to buy into and swoon over. One facet where this has been particularly evident is the crossover between high-end fashion houses such as Louis Vuitton or Maison Margiela with streetwear giants such as Supreme and Converse. For me this really is the Venus fly trap of fashion collabs’ as it takes something largely unattainable for the 99.9%, like a LV hoodie and or pair of Margiela kicks, and aligns itself with something household and familiar to us making it seem far more within our reach. The metaphorical low hanging fruit in the fashion garden of Eden. Wise marketing? 100%. Completely ethical and credible? Not so sure.
So there we have it boys and squirrels, the ins and outs of today’s ever-evolving fashion collab phenomena. My parting words of advice would be to firstly live within ones means I.E don’t ever be that guy bragging about his shoe game but still lives with his folks, GET YOUR PROIRITIES RIGHT SON! But if you do decide to get into this game of collabs’, HYPE and reselling be sure to try differentiate between what is a notable and cool coming together of two design teams and what is just a fraudulent marketing ploy to capture some of your hard earned income.
As always, would love to hear from you guys in relation to anything covered.
Peace and love,