When another brand collaborates with another for mutual benefits, there are multiple reasons for this. It can generate buzz/PR, move the brand into new markets, new product categories, audiences and distribution. It also creates a distinction between competitions and if done well, can improve a brand’s image and reputation.
Another reason why fashion collaborations also exist is that it can also strengthen the credibility of already established brands.
“…Collaboration refers to a product, collection, or brand emerging from an alliance between at least one fashion brand / designer & another entity…” Cope & Maloney 2016
Now, one recent collaboration I want to discuss today involves a high luxury brand Valentino, and comic book publishing rivals, DC Comics and Marvel. The Italian brand has unveiled a new collection for both women and men inspired by Batman, Superman and Spider-Man. With the popularity and huge fan base of both DC’s latest offering ‘Batman v. Superman’ and Marvel’s ‘Captain America: Civil War’, it’s no surprise that even fashion brands are trying to capitalize on them. But is Valentino, known for it’s quite feminine and ethereal designs, really the best partner for superheroes?
The limited edition range consists of trainers, bags and t-shirts that are designed with the signature colours/logos of the three mentioned superheroes. They are priced at $895 each, which I find a tad ridiculous. I admit I was a bit surprised when I read about this collaboration. A high luxury Italian fashion house AND comic books/movies?
Now, I’m eager to find out if this particular collaboration will be mutually beneficial to both brands. Do you think this was a clever idea? Does the Valentino brand (and its core values, being a world-known high luxury company) and target consumer fit in with the superhero market? As a big fan of both, I never would have put them both together. But then again, a collaboration between two established companies is a great way to reach new audiences. Could Valentino be pushing to reach a much younger, mainstream consumer? But it could also risk alienating core consumers. Does the typical Valentino consumer really want to be associated with superheroes? Is there a loss of exclusivity? Their core consumers may feel that the brand has cheapened itself by allowing to be accessed by the mainstream.
Upon further research, I also came across the brand’s Wonder Woman-inspired collection that was launched only a month ago. The capsule collection designed by Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo “pays tribute to all women”. You can still see remnants of the brand’s signature style, with its mostly feminine colours and embellishments. Instead of taking the theme of Wonder Woman literally, they incorporated stars on all the garments. The star studs even replaced the famous rockstuds on heels! To be honest, there are no other references to the DC superhero apart from the mentioned shapes and I probably wouldn’t have thought of WW at first glance.