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In a Sea of Collaborations, How Are Fashion Brands Making Theirs Stand Out?

Brand Insights in 3 Sentences: Collaborations remain a tried-and-true method for brands to generate publicity, drive sales and even revamp their image. They must, however, be careful who they decide to partner with. A collaboration only works if they are able to thoughtfully combine their values and aesthetics and establish a clear vision of what they are trying to achieve from this partnership.

Last month, we talked about some of the most buzzworthy fashion collaborations of 2022, but this time we wanted to take a deeper dive into made them so compelling and to get a gauge on what consumers thought of the partnerships. Using our AI-led product, Sphere, we explored some key themes and insights from the collaborations’ social media posts.

Our AI identified images from the collaborations’ promotional videos that represented Anti-fashion, Disco, Adventure Core, and Junglecore. While the themes in these fashion campaigns are completely different, they represent a key goal of luxury marketing, which is to sell dreams. Whether it’s going to the most glamorous parties, exploring the wilderness, or encouraging you to go against the status quo, these campaigns are meant to make consumers feel that they aren’t just buying material things but the experience and spirit that goes along with it, and what the item then conveys about them.

*Sphere scores subcultures based on a 0–1 scale. The higher the score, the stronger the subculture or aesthetic is signaled through the campaign images and videos.

Why Collaborate?

Nike and Louis Vuitton were ranked as the two most valuable apparel brands in 2022. Both have attained peak cultural status symbols and maintain a loyal customer base. Any collaboration between them seemed bound for success, but we wanted to assess what each was trying to achieve with this partnership and how they differ from their own brands.

Using our Ad Evaluation app, we analyzed Louis Vuitton, Nike and their collaboration’s YouTube ads to find out how the brand created their campaign to align with both of their own values.

Nike’s own ad conveyed their value of ‘Supporting Athletes’ the most, which was a value that was scored low in Louis Vuitton and Nike Air Force 1’s campaign videos. Instead, ‘Cultivating a Culture of Innovation’ resonated most in the partnership’s videos.

On the other hand, when compared to Louis Vuitton’s brand values, the collaboration ads resonated the most with ‘Highlighting Craftsmanship.’ Documenting the process of creating luxury items is a promotional tool that has picked up in popularity in recent years. People purchase luxury items believing that they are buying into something thoughtfully designed and special, so documenting the design process and craftsmanship behind it has become a key marketing tactic for Louis Vuitton and other luxury brands.

The collaboration ads also received a very low score in Louis Vuitton’s other brand values, which indicates that this wasn’t a priority for them. In fact, Nike’s key selling point to Louis Vuitton is that it’s different to them, and “cool”. Not only is it one of the world’s most valuable brands, but it’s also one of the most popular amongst Gen Zs. By associating themselves with Nike, Louis Vuitton gets to benefit from the sportswear brand’s “clout” and to keep them top-of-mind for aspirational buyers.

Consumers’ Thoughts on the Collections

Based on comments left on the collaborations’ campaign videos and photos on YouTube and Instagram, sentiments were 86.86% positive and only 13.14% negative. There were a few key observations we made that might be important for brands to note before embarking on a collaboration:

  • Fashion collaborations traces its roots back to high street-designer partnerships, from Halston and JCPenney to Karl Lagerfeld and H&M. The draw of these collections were that they were affordable and allowed the masses to own something “luxury”. These days, many of these collaborations are exorbitantly priced and bought quickly by people looking to resell, so many of the negative comments included complaints about how they could never own these items or it was impossible to get their hands on.
Instagram Comments
  • Some people had commented on the unsatisfactory buying experience they had with these collaborations. There were complaints about poor customer service and that the site was down on the day of the release. While brands may not be able to anticipate the turnouts for their collections, there should always be a contingency plan in place that prioritizes the customers’ needs.
Instagram Comments
  • With the sheer number of collaborations coming out every year, fans are highly discerning of every collection and the brands behind them. Louis Vuitton and Nike were lauded for their designs and the way in which they paid tribute to Virgil Abloh. Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga, on the other hand, was accused of stealing designs from other artists and Adidas for Prada Re-Nylon was called out for not putting any thought into their products. Brands should be cognizant of the collections they put out and that they are reflective of all parties’ aesthetics and values.
Instagram Comments

Write to anurag.banerjee@quilt.ai to learn about AI-powered market research and the latest consumer trends.

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