Collaboration has long been something celebrated by the creative industries, seen as an opportunity for two innovative forces to combine their visions producing something lustfully coveted by the admiring. Look towards any powerhouse duo and you’ll find the art of collaboration and it’s successes. The fashion industry is often seen as the home of eccentric personalities and unique, exceptional talents, but it’s the collaborators, rather than the individuals, who really push the industry forward and inspire the multitude of collaborations we have seen this year. What is a collaboration? Defined as “individuals or groups working together, combining their strengths and negating weaknesses to accomplish a set of goals”, it’s clear to see it’s attractiveness to the fashion giants of the industry, even though it was not always this way, they are a catalyst to creating some of the most exciting and inclusive pieces to date.
Historically, high-end designers would aloofly shunt the idea of assembling talents with a lower-end retailer – the once perceived detrimental is now the mass-consumed. Collaborations are the hot new topic keeping the tongues of fashionista’s wagging up and down the country. From JW Anderson X Uniqlo, Victoria Beckham for Target and Erdem X H&M, influencers, buyers and stylists alike are constantly eagerly awaiting the next big collab’ to drop, which got me thinking of how successful collaborating can be, in any situation.
As the old saying goes; “two heads are better than one” – a concept regularly instilled into us from a young age, we as budding creatives are always taught that we can benefit from compiling ideas and producing nothing quite short of perfection with a little use of said ‘creative mixing’. However, the fashion industry has historically eluded a sense of indifference when it comes to inclusiveness, only now arriving at a point where diversity and sharing inspiration is celebrated. Before this though, there was a discernible desire to not include the masses, exclusivity was the primary alluring aspect to many brand strategies and collaborating or ‘sharing’ your artistic ability with another was almost inconceivable. It was considered as devaluing for some of the most celebrated figures in fashion to collaborate with fashion subcultures previously derided for its links with low-income Britain. For example, brands that once had this connotation, like Adidas, now collaborate with the likes of Raf Simons, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and Alexander Wang producing oversized hoodies and tailored tracksuits derived from street style. Now, increased imagination and daring designs have been more recently introduced by retailers and designers, we also see the likes of Vetements and Kenzo proudly stamping their name onto garments produced by that of Levi and H&M.
It begs the question of why it was ever considered not a good idea? At first glance, these collaborations between the fashion powerhouses seem to appease all; they allow us mere mortals the chance to obtain that coveted designer look on a not-so designer budget. The partnerships also provide a hint of exclusivity to the high street brands like H&M and Vans, tapping into that materialistic psychosis and superiority complex us fashion worshipers all have (even if you won’t admit it). I think it’s fascinating how we recently saw the rise in and continued popularity of the ‘you can’t sit with us’ approach – denoting that those who belong to the industry still posses icy exteriors and that air of elusiveness. Making me wonder if we only commend collaboration and proclaim artistic partnerships when it’s between our ‘favourite’ astronomically un-affordable designer (of whom we have never bought a piece from but have instead liked every single Instagram picture and consider that as the same thing, right?) and our usual high-street haunt? Food for thought, I guess.