Today a lot of brands are a subject for different types of collaborations such as Louis Vuitton & Supreme, Vetements & Canada Goose. Nevertheless, some things can be learned from the retail experience of the former Parisian store “Colette”. A retail store had a goal to bring together products they liked and couldn’t find in Paris, from fashion to street, beauty, design, music and high-tech. The store contained a lot of exclusive brands that were mixed with more readily available products, and the mix was unique. A collaboration could be about adding a unique twist to a classic product of a brand range. It is still highly relevant today though. The strategy resulted in a number of successful collaborations with for example Comme des Garçons, Gap, Raf Simmons. The success might be explained by the “surprise” effect.
The collaboration-concept makes the brands push the envelope and do something really extreme. Every collaboration is never the same, creating a certain freedom of identity triggered by creativity and desire to differentiate itself within the sphere of the collaborating brands’ established value. Thus, it creates a balance between respect of the identity of collaborating brands and flexibility to impose no limits on the creativity. Collaboration is not merely about economic winning but also about bringing a newness in a form of a craftsmanship or a genius idea. However, the result should be something the brands would not be able to do alone. It creates opportunity for the parts to use each other’s savoir faire.
However, there is a danger of only existing via collaborations. Brands should be able to exist by themselves and build their own single strong identity before or in parallel of the development of collaborations. Otherwise such managerial strategy might jeopardise a brand’s own identity and make their original collections hard to sell. An “electroconvulsive” experiment to perform would be a collaboration between Chanel and Vetements, as these brands stand for two completely opposite values. Chanel has its artisanal heritage and exquisite luxury to lean towards, meanwhile Vetements has created a new luxurious context based on the controversial cultural and social history of the Soviet-era and on the analytical creation of deconstruction and bricolage. As known both brands have strong authenticity base to stand on and to communicate to the consumers. It could also be a hindrance to such collaboration as the consumers might not understand the brands interference into each others’ savoir fair and will still be looking for the elements they are used to. Such scenario could probably turn such collaboration into a clash of the Titans.