Limited-edition product drops from exclusive brand collaborations have soared in the past few years, with fashion labels’ relevance hanging in the balance — if you aren’t collaborating, what are you even doing? Where there was once competition and opposing brands were sworn enemies, the new decade has meant welcoming the other team with open arms, and getting by with a little help from “friends” has become an incredibly viable marketing strategy.
Brand collaborations, however, are not new. The trend started gaining traction back in the noughties. Probably most memorable was that of Karl Lagerfeld and H&M in 2004 (special mention: H&M joined forces with local brand Mantsho in 2019). Now, almost every brand has hopped on the bandwagon, with the most successful of them merging luxury fashion with street- and sportswear.
According to a report entitled “What It Takes to Power Luxury Brand Collaborations” by fashion-trade journal WWD, the rapid upward trajectory of collab culture is a result of many things: a way for brands to create hype and attract new markets and a way to satisfy the increasing demand for new, unique goods. Vogue Business explains that the unprecedented success of the streetwear and athleisure movement has also played a pivotal role by encouraging brands to experiment with the “drop model” — releasing small quantities of a limited-edition product and building hype around it.
The nature of collaborations has also evolved. Where once it was enough to place another’s logo on a product, brands are now actively involved in creating once-off pieces that merge both the creative forces and signature aesthetics of the labels involved. And these products are seriously coveted. Shoppers queue for hours on release days to get a tiny piece of fashion history.
From collaborations with artists, celebrities and brands, the past decade has seen a tremendous amount of success from groundbreaking projects — but that’s not to say that all fusions have been good. Here are our picks, including those appearances by our very own homegrown exports like Mami Wata, Athi-Patra Ruga, and Nicholas Hlobo.
1. MONCLER GENIUS X MAMI WATA
Launched March 2020, available online at moncler.com, in 200 Moncler stores globally, as well as in some of the world’s top department stores and boutiques.
2. DIOR LADY ART X ATHI-PATRA RUGA
Launched January 2020, available in selected Dior boutiques.
3. ADIDAS X BEYONCÉ’S IVY PARK
Launched January 2020, available online at adidas.co.za (currently sold out).
6. LOUIS VUITTON ARTYCAPUCINES X NICHOLAS HLOBO
Launched June 2019, each model of the art-inspired Artycapucines Collection is limited to 300 pieces, available in stores and online.
• From the April issue of Wanted 2020.