Please, No More Fashion Collaborations.

We have all become accustomed to collaborations, but putting price points aside, can we really say that the latest collaborations between high fashion houses and sportswear brands have been nothing more than a slight extension of said brands’ aesthetic and identity transferred onto a silhouette from a sporting brand’s archives? The answer is no.

By now, you will have seen the latest in luxury fashion meets sportswear giant collaborations. If you haven’t, let me be the first to tell you that Balenciaga and adidas have joined forces, just like adidas and Prada before them, Jacquemus and Nike before them, and Nike and Givenchy before them – you get the point.

High fashion collaborations have become the hallmark of the modern fashion industry. Although traditionally, sportswear and luxury brands have had entirely different design languages, the 2010s have ushered in a new era of cross-pollination among fashion and lifestyle brands. Now there is a collaboration between sportswear and streetwear infused luxury labels everywhere you look.

Historically collaborations between brands were industry-defining, often bringing about something entirely different and unseen before in fashion.

However, for lack of better terms, the latest collaborations are a lacklustre reproduction of things seen already. Collaborations are now a dime a dozen for a fashion industry that’s churning out more products than ever before. But after the Balenciaga and adidas collaboration for the Kering Group-owned brands resort 2023 runway show in New York City, it may be time to put these collaborations to bed, at least for now.

It’s clear that collaborations are the modus operandi for a fashion industry that seems hell-bent on crossing party lines and giving designers from other houses and brands creative rein. Across the industry, sportswear brands like Nike and adidas, even PUMA and others are opening up their archives and lending their logos to fashion collaborations that aim to disrupt the order of things and have a cultural impact.

Initially, we were all excited about the idea that our favourite sports brands would partner with our favourite luxury houses. However, with the increasing number of collaborations, partnerships, and hackings, these collaborations may have reached a point where they’re more sanctimonious cash grabs than meaningful contributions to fashion.

Collaboration is supposed to elevate both brands by providing a fresh perspective on creating a collection outside their usual scope. These collections are supposed to capture the current trend while presenting original and revolutionary ideas. However, if the latest collaborations are anything to go by, we may have reached the peak of sportswear and luxury collaborations.

Now part of fashion’s everyday language, these collaborations have become stale bootleg versions of designs that we have seen before—nothing original and no value-added except for the logo of a luxury brand.

Take Balenciaga’s latest collaboration with adidas. Comprising 33 pieces, the collection simply takes adidas staples made from the same materials and replaces the adidas name with Balenciaga’s, but the price increase is ten-fold.

When high fashion brands like Balenciaga, Prada and Givenchy partner with Nike and adidas, they give cache and enable their collaboration partners to tap into luxe markets without overcommitting. But, what is the point of high-end variations of everyday items repackaged with a luxury logo and slightly exaggerated silhouettes when the end result is just high-end variations?

Of course, fashion has always been provocative. The popularity of these collaborations means that brands that weren’t associated with luxury can put themselves into the conversation with some of the world’s most popular brands. But taking £10 socks, adding a Balenciaga logo onto them and then selling them for £150 may be taking it to new levels.

The luxury world once considered collaborations a form of brand dilution, but now it is the go-to strategy for any luxury brand worth its salt.

We have all become accustomed to collaborations, but putting price points aside, can we really say that the latest collaborations between high fashion houses and sportswear brands have been nothing more than a slight extension of said brands’ aesthetic and identity transferred onto a silhouette from a sporting brand’s archives? The answer is no.

However, don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of collaborations as much as the next guy. I just wish they would return to offering a new perspective, new levels of quality and durability, adding value and ultimately pushing the boundaries of what we can expect when two fashion behemoths collaborate.

Discover more from GUAP’s Fashion section here