How collabs give new life to established brands

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For the Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2001 collection, then creative director Marc Jacobs did something unexpected.

Jacobs invited artist and fashion designer Stephen Sprouse to replace Louis Vuitton’s famous monogram with New York Style graffiti on the brand’s iconic bags.

The collection was a sensation and helped to popularise the idea of brand collaboration.

“We broke all the rules that season,” Jacobs explained. “I had been told we were not allowed to change the monogram. I had been trying to follow the rules and do what everybody told me until it got to the point where I realised that’s not why I was brought in here.”

In the years since many other brands have woken to the opportunity of partnering to explore new creative possibilities and, most importantly, to capture attention and sales.

Stella McCartney and Adidas have been collaborating for over a decade, creating a line of sustainable high-performance athletic wear that appeals to fashion-conscious consumers.

“Adidas is always at the forefront of newness when it comes to sustainable practices, and we get great access to new developments for each collection we work on together,” McCartney has explained.

“The collaboration is borne out of game-changing ideas, no one wants to play it safe, and so working together we have to continue to do that.”

Liberty of London has almost 150 years of expertise in creating beautifully patterned fabrics. Vans might not be an obvious match, but perhaps that is why their collaboration has been so successful.

When applied to t-shirts, hoodies and more, new life is breathed into the floral and paisley patterns, and both brands benefit from the association.

Few brands are as savvy at collaborations as New York-based streetwear brand Supreme. Over the years they have partnered with Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Nike, Fender, and The North Face.

“If we could have done a thing with Louis Vuitton 25 years ago, we would have,” explains founder James Jebbia.

“For us, whenever we do something, it’s something we feel like, for young people, this isn’t already a part of their world. Or it isn’t accessible to them. We could do something that opens people’s minds to something they hadn’t known or thought about before. Like when we worked with Lou Reed. That was just cool. What’s good is good. That’s really the criteria. And if it’s been done, we don’t do it. Simple as that.”

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