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The cheap trick of luxury working with itself

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I’ve met enough luxury executives and designers over the years to assure you that the one urgent question asked at this morning’s weekly meeting was, “which of our luxury peers should we collaborate with this season?” next ? “

Hold on, hold on. First of all, the answer to this question should be, “None, you’re already late. Second, the industry needs to drop that idea, turn it around, and then reverse it until the question, “When did we stop pushing fashion?” “

As Fendi and Versace unveiled the industry’s worst-kept secret last night in Milan, they gave media, influencers and fans something to talk about. “FENDACE” saw Fendi’s artistic director, Kim Jones – with the help of Silvia Venturini Fendi – make her debut on the Versace house, only to unveil a few minutes later the interpretation of Donatella Versace on the Italian house of Fendi, presented on the same podium.

Longtime Fendi and Versace muses Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Kristen McMenamy – as well as next-gen models Precious Lee, Paloma Elsesser and Adut Akech – have stepped out in altered house signatures, including F-logo necklaces. gold-plated, reworked Fendi Peekaboo and Baguette handbags adorned with Versace’s gold Medusa logo, and even blonde Donatella wigs.

It was fun, it was a gold mine for merchandising, and it represented how unimaginative the luxury fashion industry has become, where the players who shout the loudest, market the hardest and are most celebrated by their peers, can evolve independently. – Relevant fantasy football score shooting creation.

When Gucci partnered with Balenciaga earlier this year, followed by Balenciaga’s collaboration with Gucci, the merger of two of the most influential and successful fashion brands surprised industry insiders and fans alike. Two brands that are part of the same fashion group and have been fighting over the same consumer for years Finding common ground was a new take on what Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia had already done first with Vetements in 2016, when the brand launched. collaborated with 18 clothing companies, including luxury. brands Comme des Garçons, Manolo Blahnik and Brioni.

The evolution of this concept, as Moncler showed with the launch of its Genius project in 2018 – followed by Valentino and Undercover in January 2019 – still looked like a new interpretation of a then new strategy. The formula has since been copied and pasted by Jean Paul Gaultier x Everyone, Sacai x Everyone, Karl Lagerfeld x Kenneth Ize, Dries Van Noten x Christian Lacroix, Valentino x Craig Green, Rimowa x Fendi and Rimowa x Dior.

But whatever you do, don’t call them collaborations! FENDACE, as promoted on Fendi and Versace Instagrams, made this point clear, calling the partnership “exchange, not collaboration”. Partly, Gucci and Balenciaga called it “hack, not collaboration,” Valentino called his partnership with Craig Green “interpretation,” as did Jean-Paul Gaultier for his connection to Sacai. What don’t you understand It is not a collaboration.

Sure. Let’s call it that anyway to save everyone’s time and wake up luxury brands from the fact that most of them are no longer in control. Not when it comes to innovating, not when it comes to content, and certainly not when it comes to the very outdated notion of dictating what wording gets adopted by audiences.

In the ‘relax, it’s not that serious’ space, the comments section ended up, where observers believe the multibillion-dollar luxury fashion industry shouldn’t be dissected and analyzed, the brands apparently managed to blind us. They’ve done it to a point where we’ve forgotten that every collection and product launch, every ‘disruption’ and self-proclaimed moment of breakthrough pop culture on the internet has been strategically planned to convince you, the buyer, that if only you connect more deeply with a brand, engage with it longer, and walk into its store once again, you’ll be up to date enough to be accepted by the same group that designed that exact luxury model around keep you away. Try your luck next season.

An illusion, because most luxury brands no longer advance the industry, but constantly catch up with the rules and requirements set by the culture of young people. At a time when Nike, The North Face and Palace, along with iconic 2000s brands like Ed Hardy, True Religion, and Juicy Couture, are seen as more culturally credible for the same generation that mainstream luxury brands are eager to target. . T, luxury brands are taking the wrong direction in thinking that offering rare products with a similar aesthetic at a quadruple price (three seasons behind) driven by business models and marketing tricks that support this vision is the way to go. to follow.

The reason a large portion of the next generation is going for these more affordable brands in the first place is to move away from everything old luxury means – from conspicuous consumption and throwaway novelty to non-branded brand alignment. meaning. Today, most luxury brands “I’m not an ordinary mom, I’m a cool mom” can be placed in this bucket.

That’s not to say luxury brands can’t successfully engage and target the next generation. Instead, go to where the consumers you want to talk to are located. Learn their language, like Nike and adidas do by working with targeted local communities who are already engaging with your brand; inject yourself into culture through innovation as Balenciaga does with its album partnership Kanye West and as seen with the activations around its Fortnite collaboration and bring new (and sometimes unknown) creations into your brand universe, à la Jacquemus.

Above all, understand that you shouldn’t be everything to everyone. Brands have to start over figuring out what they want to say again when they’re not just trying to to sell. They should evolve those ideas for the group they are looking to reach and engage in a few strategies beyond throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks to the flavor of today is the collaboration of luxury with itself. For luxury to live and return, it must look outside of itself.


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