Fashion collaborations have been festering for the better part of a decade, but this fall it became a pandemic. Everywhere you look, there are brand-on-brand marriages: Urban Outfitters has a good half-dozen currently in stores, with Charlotte Ronson, Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and teen fashion blogger Jane Aldridge taking part; hipster favorite Band of Outsiders has been making shoes with Sperry and Manolo Blahnik; and Target has achieved the rare trifecta – Anna Sui for Target inspired by “Gossip Girl.”
It’s striking how quickly these high/low meetings have come together. Dubbed “masstige marketing,” collaborations between big box stores and luxury purveyors would have been unthinkable a decade ago. The designer Halston was notoriously dropped from Bergdorf Goodman in 1982, after licensing a line to J.C. Penney. But now, collaborations seem to be win-win situations: Square corporations up their street cred and designers increase their visibility.
With such a glut of brands mating, the impact of such collaborations has been diluted and truly original work can be hard to find. But for those looking to find some odd fashion couples this fall and spring, here’s a primer:
Anna Sui X Target
Inspiration: To the great excitement of tweens and adult women alike, designer Anna Sui decided to make a line of women’s clothing based on the four major female characters of the CW hit “Gossip Girl” – Blair (preppy, with bows and headbands), Serena (urbane), Jenny (punky) and Vanessa (Brooklyn boho).
Degree of actual collaboration: Medium. Sui did the designing, but you can bet, with three big brands involved, much vetting was done.
Odd detail: As a Nylon magazine blog points out, Sui’s Target line has some pieces that bear a striking resemblance to some of her past runway looks. (Thankfully, at a fraction of the price.)
Where to find it: Target.
Drop date: Sept. 13
Jil Sander X Uniqlo
Inspiration: Japanese retail chain Uniqlo has been on the cutting edge of fashion collaborations, having worked with Phillip Lim and Alexander Wang, but they brought it to a new level by bringing German designer Jil Sander out of retirement for a line called +J. Her work with Uniqlo will extend beyond this fall’s line, but she’s focusing on +J for now.
Degree of actual collaboration: Very high. Sander and Uniqlo both share a minimalist aesthetic, so the merging makes sense.
Odd detail: One of the trickiest parts of this collaboration was the fact that Sander no longer owns the commercial rights to her own name. It took months of legal work to resolve this.
Where to find it: Uniqlo stores.
Drop date: Oct. 1