By Sarah Harris
I am the girl who will end up wearing trainers under my wedding dress. My most coveted item of clothing is my Alexander McQueen X Puma Disc trainers that I got given as a present in 2015. That’s when my fascination behind collaborations began. Over the last decade, we’ve seen a huge rise in fashion collaborations, from Versace X H&M in 2011 to Supreme X Louis Vuitton in 2017. But are these collabs successful or are they simply a failed attempt to make high-end fashion more approachable in a society that is consumed by fast fashion?
Collaborations first started as a chance to give smaller brands a little more standing in the fashion industry, but since then the actual concept of collaboration has become somewhat of a trend within itself with high-end brands even beginning to collaborate amongst themselves. I personally think this incentive is only successful when it brings two different worlds together. A collaboration between two couture brands would be pointless and wouldn’t result in fresh and unique creations. No one wants to see Gucci X Prada, but Gucci X Adidas would be a sight to marvel at.
The last few years has seen an increase in collaborations with Sportswear brands, which isn’t surprising considering the rise of the ‘hypebeast’ in the fashion world. We possibly have Kanye West and Kim Kardashian to thank for that, after Yeezy made leggings and sweatshirts somewhat couture. Because of him, the fashion world has never been so crazed towards Sportswear. We’ve had Kiki Kostadinov X Asics, Stussy X Dover Street Market, Aries X New Balance, and that’s just to name a few.
The most popular as of late is Stella McCartney X Adidas, a collaboration by two of the most sought-after brands in the industry. But why is this collab so different from previous ones? Well, it will be the first to feature performance apparel that is pushing towards a sustainable feature. Items included within the line feature a 100% recyclable hoodie and tennis dress created with Microsilk and cellulose, as well as vegan Stan Smiths.
In a statement published on the Adidas website, the McCartney said, ‘fashion is one of the most harmful industries to the environment. We can’t wait any longer to search for answers and alternatives. By creating a truly open approach to solving the problem of textile waste, we can help empower the industry at large to bring more sustainable practices into reality. With Adidas by Stella McCartney we’re creating high performance products that also safeguard the future of the planet.’
Although Adidas by Stella McCartney brings a fresh perspective to collaborations, there is some dispute as to whether this has been a successful venture? Isn’t the whole point of these high-end collabs to make clothing more accessible to all? It’s no secret that the high-end fashion industry is dying, with even most celebrities supposedly shopping at FashionNova and Pretty Little Thing. It’s not as if the items in this collaboration were exactly affordable with most of the items being over £150 and even the Stan Smiths being £235. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?
Adidas is no stranger to collabs with some even being the brands bestsellers, such as Yeezy and Y-3. Yeezy alone has earned the brand a swift $1.3 billion (£999,667,500). Kanye created a new wave in the sneaker industry and is still doing so today, but c ould McCartney do the same?
One brand that has been somewhat successful in making high-end collaborations somewhat successful is H&M. Having collaborated with some of the fashion industries finest such as Balmain, Versace and Alexander Wang just to name a few; H&M has a clever approach in to making high-end fashion more accessible as well as sustainable.
Their latest collaboration is with celebrity favourite Couture brand, Giambattista Valli. The collab was announced earlier in 2019 after Kendall Jenner stepped out on to the Cannes Red Carpet debuting a tulle, pink gown from the collection. The collection features everything from socks to fur jackets and is definitely becoming of the Italian designer’s unique style. The 45-piece collection ranges from £13 to £150, so is definitely more affordable than Adidas X Stella McCartney.
When asked about the collaboration, Valli said, “I was contacted by H&M unexpectedly, and immediately reacted with enthusiasm. My world and H&M are supposed to be at odds, but this is just a misconception. At its core, my work is about a certain kind of woman undefined by age or status, and now also about a certain kind of man. H&M allows me to reach them on a global skill, which is great.”
It’s clear the incentive behind these collaborations is pure. In a world where we should be striving for economical and sustainable fashion, we are sadly consumed by the toxic nature of fast fashion. However, high-end designers such as McCartney and Valli are clearly stepping in the right direction. There is a clear divide in the fashion industry and partnerships such as this could possibly allow us to improve things.