Collaboration As A Media Form
Collab is perhaps my favorite word of the moment. I was introduced to the word recently via some consulting work KatadhinCo is doing in the Sneakerhead space. Collabs are partnerships between shoes and designers that seek to leverage the collective audiences of both brands. For instance, fashion designer John Varvatos and Converse have collaborated for several years on a great looking sneaker that brings together one of the most iconic shoes ever; the Chuck Taylor, and styles it with black leather waxed laces, zippers and premium leathers. These types of partnerships have propelled the sneaker industry into new markets and attracted new kinds of customers.
Design collabs aren’t new but are expanding in terms of their scope and types of integrations. Celebrity, fashion, sports, art and many other types of influencers combine to create interesting sneaker styles and designs that helps to create compelling stories about the sneaker market. Not only do these projects sell more shoes, but also creates media hype and conversation around the products. one of the main benefits of collaboration in a digital media world is leveraging the combined audiences of multiple brands and personalities. The crossover effect can yield results greater than just the combined reach of the existing fan base.
At Implus, we’ve been building a new super-premium shoecare brand called ForceField and actively collaborating with the entire sneaker industry ecosystem to bring a final product to market. By actively seeking input and feedback from category passionates (Sneakerheads) along with consumers, retailers, manufacturers and influencers, Implus is creating a brand that is directly driven by the Sneakerhead culture. Through orchestrating these voices into the brand, we are able to deliver a final product late this year that will greatly enhance the enjoyment of sneaker passionate consumers.
The first step was to create a product formulation that addressed some of the challenges of the current range of high-end shoecare products; primarily application time and need to continuously reapply shoe protectors to maintain effectiveness. By working closely with our manufacturing partners, we we able to leverage new technology that addresses these needs and also provides UV protection to prevent discoloration from sunlight. This new formulation enables consumers to quickly treat their shoes with lasting protection so they can focus on enjoyment vs. worrying about damaging their prized possessions.
Implus’ new ForceField range of products are also part of a strong new industry trend where Sneakerheads pushing back against the practice of collecting of shoes to simply lock them away in a storage locker but rather to actually wear them. The #WearYourKicks movement is growing and ForceField fits nicely into the movement to help consumers rapidly protect shoes, (the product cures in 23 minutes) so that shoes can be treated and worn quickly. Compared to current formulations that can take up to a day to dry, this feature changes the timeframe at which shoes can be worn or enjoyed as well as negates the need for constant re-application of product.
Our partnership is extending into the launch of the product by actively engaging sneakerhead influencers for product testing feedback, content creation and social media engagement. Sneakerheads from many different perspectives are helping to bring the brand to life through their individual view points. We recently connected with some industry thought leaders at Extra Butter, a boutique sneaker store located in the Lower East Side of NYC. This collaborative shopping experience enabled us to get input on the efficacy of ForceField products from many angles including sneaker culture, fashion and music. The event also provided a backdrop for creating integrated content with the influencers. Our video and photography teams along with social content creators created media that can be used to build various types of social content to support the brand launch.
Sneakers are art. As we planned our content stack, we chose to include some artwork creation as well and engaged photographer Christer Berg to help us bring sneaker passion to life through photo portraits. Beginning initially with our staff, Christer created his unique style of portrait photography and helped capture the essence of each person’s relationship with shoes. We are using the visual content to build stories to support ForceField’s launch.
All of this various content works in concert to build audience engagement and grow awareness of the ForceField brand as we prepare to launch the brand. By leveraging the combination of content creators and their networks to drive social properties, ForceField will begin with a solid base of fans from which to expand.