Five future paths for luxury collaborations

type - big idea
Big Idea
category - sustainability
sector - fashion
sector - luxury
Historical rivalries are being put aside as luxury firms embrace the benefits of working together, from authentication projects to shared audiences

Balucci’s bold brand partnership

Flooding social media in April 2021 – and recently updated with a series of fresh dual-branded designs – Kering-owned luxury houses Balenciaga and Gucci are partnering for a collection of covetable garments and accessories for Gucci’s Aria runway. Playfulled dubbed ‘Balucci,’ Dazed & Confused magazine describes this as the first rival brand collaboration of its kind in modern luxury history, with Gucci ‘hacking’ Balenciaga designs.

Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, described the creative experiment in WWD as: ‘playing with possibly the biggest sacrilege… Creativity means dialogue, continuous experiment and freedom.’ While the two brands operate under Kering, they are competitors targeting similar fashion-forward youth audiences and spend, making the collaboration a smart move in which both parties will benefit – and pointing to a future of more competitor brand mashups.

Sotheby’s fires up an artistic match

Recognising that auction houses must constantly evolve, Sotheby’s continues to explore new ways to engage affluent clients – most recently by collaborating with Spanish luxury label Loewe. Rather than focusing on archival pieces or those with famous provenance, the partnership is producing brand-new products to be sold via Sotheby’s emerging Buy Now marketplace.

Together, they are co-releasing a collection of artisan-crafted clay chestnut roasters, reminiscent of those from northwest Spain and customised by global artists, including Japan’s ARKO and Min Chen of China. In this way, Sotheby’s is combining traditional, crafts-led goods – hugely popular among homebody audiences at present – with a roster of global talent. The key, however, is making the goods available to buy instantly, marking the first exclusive consignment on the Buy Now platform since it launched.

Published by:

19 July 2021

Author: Kathryn Bishop

Image: A Wink and A Roar exhibition by Gaffer in collaboration with Nike. Photography by Olivia Rose


Converse x Feng Chen Wang

Opening audiences with Chinese collaborators

While Sotheby's is exploring global talent, collaborations have typically skewed towards European or American artists and creatives. Now, however, brands are recognising the power and benefit of working with a new generation of Chinese creatives – not only to establish greater local relevance but to offer a stage for rising talent. In turn, such collaborations can help to capture younger shoppers’ attention in China and beyond.

Brands can take cues from partnerships such as Converse x Feng Chen Wang, a Chinese-born, London-based fashion designer who describes herself as being ‘at the forefront of a new generation of fashion talent emerging from China'. Similarly, Diesel last year partnered with Chinese label Pronounce on a unisex range that reinterpreted pieces from Diesel’s archive. Adam Schokora, founder of Chinese creative agency Neocha, notes: ‘[Younger Chinese consumers] know it’s the Century of China and they want to see their favourite brands co-creating with local Chinese talents.’

A united ethical effort for jewellery

A particular segment of the luxury sector – gemstones – is turning to collaboration to help improve working practices across the entire supply chain, from mine to final sparkling product. Launched in the spring of 2021, the Gemstones and Jewellery Community Platform is the brainchild of The Coloured Gemstones Working Group (CGWG), an organisation created by coloured gemstone mining companies in 2016, and consultancy TDI Sustainability.

Through this new community platform, the CGWG will engage and unite jewellery and gemstone companies and independent designers of all types, offering free resources and training tools, alongside self-assessment tools specially created for organisations of different sizes and business functions. The aim? To take positive, collaborative action on human rights, environmental protection and fair labour practices – issues that continue to impact coloured gemstone mining.

‘[Chinese youth] want to see themselves represented locally and abroad alongside other creative forces in these industries... Quite frankly, it’s long overdue’
Adam Schokora, founder, Neocha

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