What just happened in Milan? Fendi and Versace “swapped”; Boss and Russell Athletic went full Americana and Moncler released seven interpretations with different designers. Meanwhile, Australia is still trying to figure out exactly what the rules are to leave the house and have a beer in a park.
The biggest trend in fashion isn’t black, it isn’t loose fits and it isn’t even sneakers. It’s collaborations. Brands partnering up for a limited run, much-hyped collection for consumers hungry for specific brands – emphasis on the word brand hare because that’s the fuel feeding the fire, pure brand awareness. Fashion, it seems, has become a team sport.
The biggest news to come from Milan Fashion Week was a not-so-secret collaboration between Kim Jones of Fendi and Donatella Versace. Or a swap, as they called it. A limited edition collection that would fuse the codes of the two houses. Did it work? That depends on how you define success. If it means a surplus of media coverage, a plethora of influencers vying for a piece and a sure-fire audience of youth hungry for a gimmick between two of the biggest names in fashion right now and a sense that the two designers involved had a lot of fun doing it – they knocked it out of the ball park.
Kering buddies Balenciaga and Gucci did something very similar not too long ago. Although according to Demna and Alessandro Michele it wasn’t a collaboration at all, but a mutual “hack” of the other’s brands.
Jones and Versace know what they’re doing. There’s a reason why they’re a success and there’s a reason why people desire their clothing. A collaboration between two people of this calibre and celebrity is never going to fail. But also, there’s no point in pretending that the collection – dubbed Fendace – was definitely more “‘ace” and less “Fend’”. There’s also the feeling that the most important detail of the “swap” really hinged on the accompanying logo.
Fashion’s push towards becoming a team sport was even more literal at Boss and their ongoing buddying with American sportswear brand Russell Athletic. As reported earlier their latest show, which was more immersive event than runway, paid homage to the great American pastime – baseball. A smart approach because rather than simply attempt to mash two brands, both BOSS and Rusell Athletic gave in to the aesthetic they chose to play with. From the font to the ballpark-themed clothing, a decent balance was struck without losing sight of what either.
But where does it go from here? And importantly, why does it go on from here? BOSS has, for quite some time now, been an athleisure brand. This was cemented when former CEO Mark Langer streamlined the brand, getting rid of its Orange and Green labels to instead create a more cohesive offering.
So why the partnership with Russell, a sportswear label? The official statement was “the collaboration fusing the art of tailoring with the nostalgic storytelling of classic sportswear.” But like “Fendace”, the selling point is the same: logo.
This isn’t a bad thing. It is what it is and it’s what much of fashion is currently dealing with.
Moncler has been all about that collaboration game for quite some time now. Their Moncler Genius collections, first launched in Milan back in 2018, is a monthly project that taps the creative talents of artists from all over the world to create micro-collections that range from the truly avant garde to urban comfort. This year the Mondogenius concept created a“digital experience seamlessly linked many microcosms to create one cohesive yet diverse virtual world.”
J.W. Anderson, Palm Angels, Craig Green and Hiroshi Fujiwara were some of the names to partner with the Italian brand who moved beyond the traditional Fashion Week experience to create a global network. But most importantly, the clothes…the Moncler Genius – and Mondogenius – project is an example of how collaborations can get it right.
Rather than try to fit two brands into one, artists take the icon of Moncler – the puffer jacket – and recreate it to their vision. It bends the idea of collaboration into something more sustainable – a creative conversation. It also hits the commercial sweets pot of drop culture.
But the rising number of brands taking part in collaborations that speak to little more than social hype, it’s hard not to notice that it feels like a luxury version of fast fashion. Ironic after years of big talking the need for more sustainable modelling of an industry that is known for being the biggest sinner when it comes to waste. If a collaboration is all about the moment, rather than the future, isn’t that a step backwards?