Is collaboration culture here to stay?
The latest retail news and reports prove just how essential brand collabs are for multiple sectors, from fashion and beauty through to travel, technology, alcohol and grocer. While an overarching view might depict collabs as a trend, we can see that they’re certainly not a passing phase and the link between brands runs deeper than a simple ‘x’ between names and a merging of logos.
Beyond the ‘x’ is the opportunity to explore new territories which may not be aligned with the traditional brand motivations, while also reaching a whole new world of previously unseen audiences. By their very nature, brand collaborations are innovative, and their executions are often even more so. With consumers demanding so much more from their favoured brands and retailers, these collabs are driving exposure, awareness and credibility.
But collaboration culture isn’t new. We’ve witnessed countless brand collabs over the past decade and we could be forgiven for thinking that they would one day be a distant memory. There are only so many times that the likes of Gucci, Disney and adidas can surprise us with a collab right? Well, wrong. Some of the latest collabs in 2022 have transcended the ‘norm’ and provided us with just the right amount of playfulness, intrigue, nostalgia and most importantly, FOMO. They’ve crashed websites, sparked conversations and renewed interest for brands fighting through an oversaturated market.
Let’s delve into some of the most notable, and perhaps questionable, cross-brand collaborations and discuss our thought for the future.
Gucci x Palace Skateboards
As we’ve mentioned above, Gucci are no stranger to a collab and their most recent collaboration with Palace Skateboards was much awaited.
Back in 2021, Gucci launched their experimental online space ‘Vault’ which explores virtual shelves of vintage pieces, limited editions and unique conversations with the brand – all present in the metaverse game The Sandbox. Players in the Vault can fully immerse themselves in the luxury brand, choosing to restore a vintage Gucci bag, crack riddles or win digital collectables to showcase in their ‘lands’. The brand’s ultimate goal is to educate consumers on Gucci heritage and modern relevance through gamification, a trend which has been hugely significant in fashion, beauty and luxury sectors.
Gucci have recently decided to showcase the Vault IRL, choosing to partner with Palace Skateboards to launch a physically immersive environment which ‘reflects Gucci’s unconventional approach to luxury fashion’. The Palace x Gucci collection features accessories and clothing for all genders as well as staples from the skateboard brand and a limited edition of the iconic V7 motorbike created by Moto Guzzi.
Fenty x MSCHF
Earlier this year Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF partnered with Fenty cosmetics to release a limited edition lip gloss set which contained actual ketchup. For $25, consumers could purchase six individual packets of ‘lip gloss’ with absolutely no idea if it would actually be lipgloss or ketchup.
With the awareness that MSCHF are brand-pranksters, there is little surprised attached to this stunt-like launch. It is perhaps the association with Fenty which created some hesitancy. After all, why spend $25 on a condiment, when you could purchase Fenty products without the risk? The response from beauty lovers echoed this question, but it didn’t stop multiple beauty lovers posting unboxing videos and getting stuck into the out-there collab.
Love it or hate it, the collab created an unquestionable talking point.
Primark x Greggs
Much like the risky Fenty x ketchup campaign, there were incredibly divided opinions when Primark released their clothing range dedicated Greggs. But while opinions might be mixed, but we can’t deny the shock factor when we originally witnessed the collab – or the instant recognition for Primark when the Gregg’s garments are seen IRL.
“We said, if we wanted to do a partnership then we wanted to throw out the fashion rulebook, we wanted to partner with a brand that would create a lot of conversations, but where people just wouldn’t see it coming,” Jermaine Lapwood, Primark’s head of innovation and future trends.
But the collab didn’t end with the garments and this year Primark unveiled their ‘Tasty by Greggs’ in-store café, available in Oxford Street and Birmingham. Primark and Gregg’s physical operations have been unrivalled for some time with both brands earning a reputation for affordability, but the combination has ramped up popularity for the much-loved retailers on social media.
Burberry x Minecraft
Burberry has partnered with Minecraft, as the British luxury powerhouse delves deeper into the world of gaming. Their Freedom to Go Beyond online adventure includes several immerse experiences, as well as a physical capsule collection available online and in a handful of physical stores. The game takes place in a ‘fantastical rendering of London’ with pixelated Burberry motifs present throughout the four-round game. For avid gamers, there will also be a range of extensions and experiences such as downloadable skins based on fashion, fantasy and adventure.
While this collab is vastly different to the classic brand/brand partnerships, it is a nod to the future of digital and IRL partnerships. As retail reports continue to drive home the importance of an omnichannel experience, Burberry’s collaboration with Minecraft highlights the importance of product availability online, in-store and in the much-loved gaming universe.
Looking at the many examples for brand collabs, it’s immediately clear that the majority of these partnerships take place within the realms of digital media. From social media hype and exclusive e-commerce launches, through to the increasingly popular metaverse, we are accustomed to sourcing these limited-edition productions online.
But what does this mean for the future of our stores - can we expect to see more of these collabs turn into unmissable installations IRL?
We’re no stranger to stores, pop-ups and experiences which move past the realms of ‘normal’ retail. Think Lego’s Laundrette of Dreams, Benefit’s pop-up with Motherclucker back in 2019 and now the Palace Skateboards London pop-up. We expect to see further installations which cement collaboration culture as an integral retail strategy online, in-store and within the metaverse.