Brand partnerships that breathed new life into the fashion industry
Collaborations have long been a mainstay in fashion — typically a swift and easy way to gain customers interest. But while there’s no shortage of lazy and easy cash-ins, there are several collabs that raise their head about the parapet, genuinely moving the needle in the fashion landscape.
When they do this, heads are turned, queues are formed and items become hugely desirable — and hard to find. So without further ado, here’s a list of the most impactful collaborations from the last decade.
Louis Vuitton x Supreme
It’s easy to forget just how forward thinking this collaboration was at the time, but this might’ve been the thing that pushed Supreme into a new level of consciousness. Typically luxury fashion had looked down upon the world of streetwear, while secretly being envious of its ability to have fans queuing for its wares.
So, it was a surprise to see Louis Vuitton join forces with Supreme for a blockbuster collaboration in 2017, although less so if you look a little deeper. At the time Vuitton was helmed by Kim Jones, famed for his connections with streetwear, having already made several collabs with other brands during his tenure, although none to this level.
As expected, the collection sold out instantly and remains one of the most high value goods on the resell market. But aside from that, it started discussion about luxury-streetwear collaborations and fashion insiders wondered whether this would spell the end of Supreme; having peaked. Considering Supreme just sold to VF Corp for $2.1 billion, you could say rumours of its death were greatly exaggerated.
Gucci x Balenciaga
In the same way that streetwear and luxury collabs were unthinkable in 2017, luxury on luxury (luxury squared?) collabs have usually been unthinkable now. Typically brands fighting for the same customer tend to act like they’re all in their own universe, so conventional wisdom dictates that working with another brand going for that same customer is seen to make no sense.
However, we’re in times that make no sense, so it fits that something like this could happen. Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia have unique takes on their respective brands, both known for their attention-grabbing aesthetic, albeit both in differing ways. Michele’s Gucci resembles a funhouse mirror take on a Wes Anderson film whereas Gvasalia’s Balenciaga looks like ‘90s hip-hop fashion taken to the Nth degree.
So it’s both surprising and not so that these two brands have come together for a collab seemingly designed to break the internet. The ripple effects of this are still ongoing but the doors that this may open for brands of equal stature collaborating with each other are enormous.
Palace x Ralph Lauren
In some ways, Palace and Ralph Lauren are one and the same, albeit on different ends of the spectrum. On one hand we have Ralph Lauren, the pinnacle of American preppiness. The other, we have Palace, a brand that still feels like a pinnacle of modern Britishness, combining a skater lad done good aesthetic with a cheeky sensibility that runs throughout the clothing.
Perhaps the only surprise about this 2018 collaboration was that Ralph Lauren’s brand has evolved enough to let it happen. The brand has long been subverted by subcultures such as Lo-Heads. Still, prior to this Palace collab, the American brand had never really acknowledged brands outside of the extensive universe it’d built for itself.
The resulting collection, with the holy grail piece being Ralph Lauren’s classic teddy sweater remixed in typical Palace fashion, showcasing how the collaboration made all the sense in the world.
Nike x Virgil Abloh “The Ten”
One of the collaborations that pushed Abloh into the stratosphere, Nike’s work with the designer was unprecedented on many levels. First, it’s rare that Nike will allow any collaborator to make more than 3 shoes at a time, let alone 10.
Second, the sheer amount of silhouettes on show went beyond Nike’s typical strategy on focusing on a single shoe to promote. The ten collaboration was originally meant to be between Abloh and Hiroshi Fujiwara — with both creating five shoes each. However once Nike saw the potential of the shoes Abloh created, it went all in with the Off-White founder.
Recreating everything from an Air Force 1 to an Air Presto, the collab truly showed what Abloh can do as a designer and is likely one of the career moves that helped him reach his current post at Louis Vuitton.
Travis Scott x McDonalds
We know, we know — “how can you include a fast food collaboration in this lineup?” But when you look closer at what this means — namely that the right team-up can sell literally anything, this inclusion makes perfect sense.
Travis Scott has collaborated with all manner of brands, from Nike to i-D magazine, but none seemed more leftfield than McDonalds. A true test of Scott’s consumer pulling power, McDonalds gambled that the rapper would bring a younger consumer to the restaurant. And it’s one that paid off, with corresponding merch that had Gen Z wearing the golden arches on their clothing unironically — a feat in itself.