Fashion collaborations: How luxury brands are leveraging celebrities to market fashion, watches and shoes to tech-savvy millennials

Fashion collaborations - Madonna x Versace

Business collaborations between brands and A-list celebrities are not new, but the question is, “what’s next?”

How can companies take their business to the next level? It pays to the strategic. With the intricately connected global market, brands require new approaches to stand out. This fresh perspective is most evident in the fashion industryCelebrity product placement was one of the first strategies for next level marketing. Fashion has always gone hand in hand with celebrities. Madonna would rock Versace, while Brad Pitt sported TAG Heuer and, more recently, Breitling.

This way, brands would leverage their star power connections, reaching a broader demographic; particularly capturing the celebrity’s adoring fans internationally. This particular strategy of marketing has proven itself to be quite effective as it added to the sexiness of the brand. Rap star LL Cool J launched Fubu, Puff Daddy has Sean John, and so on and forth.

After a few decades of success with this strategy, businesses started collaborations with each other. This decision, however, was more of a strategic move to survive. After the global recession (circa 2009), brands have been finding ways to cut costs: sharing brick and mortar spaces, staff and even co-branding and cross-platform marketing to maximise their dollars.

One of the first brands to co-exist was KFC and Taco Bell, two big franchises of fast food in the US. Not only did this aid in their survival during those times, it proved that brands could co-exist and collaborate in a space that didn’t compromise their brand identity or confuse their consumer base.   

This hybridisation of brands continues today and has seeped into every business sector except the fashion industry. Why is that? Because fashion branding is a bit more sensitive. Fashion brands are more particular about how they’re perceived and positioned; after all, in the fashion industry, it is all about how you look, dah’ling! This fashion elitist mentality, however, couldn’t withstand the new age of the millennial.  With this generation, of tech-savvy, super connected, non-pretentious, ‘now’ individuals, it was even harder to catch their attention, let alone build brand loyalty. The question now becomes: “What is next?”

Simplicio Michael Luis (aka M) is a fashion designer based in Los Angeles. He collaborates with Kings Global Consulting Group, which is based in Singapore, to produce fashion pieces and, more recently, his own range of coffee. M The Movement – his fashion line – is also available at his Malaysian showroom.

The full story is available in the April 2019 edition of Robb Report Singapore; get the annual print subscription delivered to your doorstep or read on the go with a digital subscription.