Let me run you through a quick, incomplete, list of luxury collaborations that debuted on the runways of New York, London, Milan and Paris over the past fashion month.

Miu Miu x New Balance on sneakers; Givenchy x Josh Smith and Givenchy x Shin Murayama on a range of art-inspired products and objects; Lanvin x Batman on chunky footwear; Balenciaga x Crocs and of course Balenciaga x The Simpsons on a special 10-minute episode of the series; Fendi x Versace and Versace x Fendi a.k.a. ‘Fendace’; COMME des GARÇONS x Salomon; Richard Malone x Mulberry; KNWLS x Marco Panconesi on throwback jewelry; Moncler x basically everyone; Botter x umbrella manufacturer Piganiol; an S.S. Daley x The National Youth Theatre.

Those were just the ones in plain sight.

Now, what do they all have in common? Well, absolutely nothing, and that’s exactly its point.

If this past fashion season — the first major one held in front of a predominantly live audience in over 18 months — could be translated into a metaphor, it would be, “Let’s throw everything against the wall and see what sticks.”

It was the approach taken for show concepts (think Chanel’s 90s low-budget runway, Fendace, and Balenciaga’s fictional-non-fictional red carpet), for design directions (from Y2K to crafty minimalism), and so too for collaborations which ranged from mundane product pairings to blockbuster luxury-on-luxury partnerships, and collaborations that crossed over into other creative disciplines.



It’s the latter that will stick. While it’s easy to applaud luxury brands for experimenting with various collaboration formats, it’s clear that most of them are lost at sea when it comes to formalizing their collaboration strategies that for too long have been based on one-offs with little long-term thinking.

Now, in the internet age where it’s impossible to plan for the next viral product, it’s understandable that brands will take their chances by trying out everything.

Collaborations are often a safe testing ground to gauge consumer reaction which might inform in what direction the brand expands into next. They also provide the opportunity to learn from a partner’s categoric expertise, leverage its supply chain, and address an audience via the collaborator’s marketing channels.

Yet all this isn’t new insight given the number of collaborations which have flooded the luxury market in the past five years. While new formats are being tested out, it’s still surprising to see how little brands have dedicated collaboration strategies in place that go beyond the quick hits.

At this point, not only should brands be more familiarized with the very clear benefits and pitfalls that are connected with collaborations — and have collaborations be a central part of their marketing strategies — but brands should get crazy with it. Venture out of your luxury comfort bubble. It’s the nature of the beast.

That means putting long-term collaborations in place à la Nike x Sacai, ASICS x Kiko Kostadinov, and Moncler x Craig Green. That means venturing outside of your own space with unexpected art, food and beverage, pop culture, automotive, design, and tech collaborations.

That means breaking the cycle of always working with the usual suspects when it comes to creative collaborations behind the scenes. That means hiring young people who are more in the know than you are, hold that door open. Most of all, it means you need to see collaborations for what they are, to expand your brand universe. Surprise us. We promise we’ll be kind. Maybe.

©



You may also like