It need not be reiterated that over the past few years we’ve seen an unprecedented number of collaborative projects between pairs or trios of brands that may or may not be from the same industry. Major efforts of this variety have been embraced by both massive corporations (Target has been doing it for years and now plans to work with Rodarte for a seasonal collection; Pepsi famously teamed up with A Bathing Ape; Jil Sander’s +J line for Uniqlo is in stores now) and smaller ones (Monocle has worked with countless people, from Comme des Garçons to Porter; practically every issue of Arkitip, a tiny independent Southern California art publication, features a collaboration with folks like Mike Mills and Peter Saville).
This trend isn’t unusual per se, however: All sorts of companies have partnered with non-employees and separate businesses for ages, but for the most part, such pairings haven’t been publicized or used as marketing ploys. So why is it that we can no longer enter a store as ubiquitous as the Gap or J. Crew and not catch sight of a tag that features both the shop’s name and an affiliate’s? Simple: Sustaining a brand’s image and reputation is harder than ever due to cheap forms of marketing and the impact of the Internet today; additionally, the “two is better than one” mindset has convinced many clothiers, luggage manufacturers, cobblers, liquor producers, and so on to shack up with competitors with equal ambition and creativity or companies outside of their field who can spread whatever product they make in conjunction to their loyalists. Belvedere may not be the choice vodka of hipsters, but if Parisian graffiti artist and restaurant and hotel owner André slaps his Mr. A. character on their bottles, it will instantly become a nightclub hit.
The following is a rundown of some of our favorite collaborations as of late in no particular order.
Kitsuné X Weston
For as long as we can remember, we’ve been tremendous fans of the French record label/fashion house Kitsuné. Recently, the dance scene staple has majorly classed up its act with the opening and successive expansion of its fashion arm. They’ve allied themselves with Petit Bateau to make a couple cute V-neck tees and now they’re making swanky loafers and boots with Weston.
Fantastic Man X Byredo Parfums
This one has been much publicized, but seeing as some Anthem staffers wear the cologne regularly, it only makes sense that the product be brought up. Byredo Parfums is a relatively new perfume maker of old-school tendencies. The stuff they produce is exceptionally gentlemanly (or gentlewomanly), sophisticated, and simple a la, say, Chanel’s famous No. 5 perfume. It only makes sense, then, that Fantastic Man, a quarterly publication from the same country with the same underlying aesthetic, concoct an irresistible cologne with them.
OBEY X Catbreath
Catbreath, an up-and-coming NYC designer, recently made a tastefully minimal capsule collection for Shepard Fairey’s skateboard-cum-propaganda institution OBEY, a company with which she holds few things in common. However, such a project only strengthens and broadens both parties’ fan bases.
Poketo X Kitsune Noir
Kitsune Noir, an arts and culture blog owned and operated by an L.A.-based graphic designer, just created a set of four wall decals and some T-shirts for the kitschy design company Poketo. Teaming up with an established artist on a freelance basis has always been a big part of product development, but until recently, such relationships were left unpublicized or confined to the inside of a book’s dust jacket.
Stüssy X Xaime Hernandez
Xaime Hernandez, one of the three Hernandez Brothers, authors of the seminal comic book series Love And Rockets, was strangely picked up by skateboard mainstay Stüssy for a few tees as well. The black-and-white screenprinted garments feature original work by the underground comic book god, making them appealing to geeks of the genre and punk skateboarders (what’s the world coming to!?)
Keds X Opening Ceremony
Keds, longtime purveyor of sneakers for elementary school students, ironically hip twentysomethings, and geriatric old men alike sought out Opening Ceremony‘s infinite cool in an effort to revitalize their iconic kicks that, let’s be honest, have become a little stale over the past few decades. Some of the resultant designs looks like the shoes we know so well attempting to don flashy neckties, but others are truly impressive in that they’re subtle upgrades of a modern day classic.
Hermès X Liberty
Not only mid-market companies collaborate! Hermès, one of the world’s most expensive brands, asked Liberty to lend the French label its Tana Lawn print for a series of six beautiful silk scarves that Hermès creative director of silk designed, making duly certain, of course, to incorporate the Hermès ex Libris logo.
HUF X Jansport
Jansport, another one of those brands normally affiliated with dorky tweens, teens, and the hell that is pre-collegiate education, commissioned San Francisco-based HUF to enliven its luggage offerings. The backpack and duffel they came up with are sporty, utilitarian, and far more sophisticated than what you’d expect to see your little brother hauling to and from band practice, and there’s nothing wrong with that.