It’s been a year of very intriguing collaborations between brands ‒ and we’re only five months in. The first one that made waves was February’s tie-up between Nike and Tiffany & Co., centring around the Nike x Tiffany & Co. Air Force 1.
The sneakers come in premium black suede and feature a Tiffany Blue swoosh. Objectively, it’s a gorgeous pair. The Air Force 1s came with a concerted social media effort, beginning with a teaser image post of a shoe box in Tiffany’s iconic blue, and with both brands’ logos emblazoned on it. “A Legendary Pair,” proclaimed the collaterals.
Social media went crazy on the first days of the campaign but fizzled quickly. According to media monitoring company Meltwater, 12.6% of the social and editorial content surrounding the collaboration was negative with 8.8% positive and 78.6% neutral. There were several interpretations for these findings. Some blame collaboration fatigue ‒ consumers have been inundated with brands pairing up that yet another one feels tired.
Some say the collaboration did not give enough ‒ it’s just a uniquely coloured pair of Nike Air Force 1s accompanied by some forgettable sterling silver accessories. There wasn’t enough novelty. It might also be fair to say that it split their followers ‒ there was a small overlap between people who would readily purchase from Tiffany & Co., and lovers of Nike’s athletic streetwear.
The secret to a good collaboration is one that takes the best parts of both brands, and to be fair, Nike and Tiffany & Co. did that to a certain extent. But on top of that, it needs to appeal to fans of both brands.
Look at this year’s more avant-garde and certainly most noteworthy collaboration to date: Balmain and Beyoncé, creating fashion objets dʼart inspired by the singer-songwriter’s seventh studio album Renaissance. They won’t be available off the shelves, but these 3D-printed/hammered metal/crystal runway pieces add a new visual dimension to Beyoncéʼs anthems of renewal. It excites both fans of Beyoncé and her music, as well as fans of Balmain and its distinct style.
Adidas, for example, has found success both in the streets and on the runway in its collaboration with Gucci. In their second year of collaboration, they’ve released a new collection to add to last year’s highly vaunted pieces. And of course, there’s Louis Vuitton and Yayoi Kusama, who released new items this year after their first successful collaboration back in 2012.
Kusama’s iconic, surrealist art elevated the luxury brand’s aesthetics, and in turn, set the standard for what brand collaborations can achieve. At the other end of the spectrum are collaborations such as British label Christian Cowan’s rather blasé collaboration with…wait for it… the Teletubbies.
The products of that arrangement were bland and uninspired, merely slapping on the beloved children’s television characters onto an array of run-of-the-mill denim jackets, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and a horrifying green pair of stiletto boots that had Dipsyʼs head sticking out the top. Even if the vibe appealed to some, there is a slivery thin overlap between Christian Cowan aficionados and adults who still hold the Teletubbies on a cultural pedestal.
When Samsonite and New Balance announced their collaboration, it was hard to tell which end of the collaboration value matrix to place it. Was it going to exhilarate their fans, or will it be another dud? We first must look at the products.
The results of the collaboration are four hardcase bags of varying sizes in black or semi-transparent white, featuring eye catching double-sided pouches inside. The Small Crossbody Bag and the slightly larger Shoe Box Crossbody Bag each come with two reversible pouches. For the white case, you get an orange and white pouch as well as an aqua and pink pouch.
For the black case, you get a teal pouch that overturns to black, and an eye-catching lime and purple pouch. The pouches for the crossbody bag and the shoebox bag come in small and medium sizes respectively, perfectly fitting the size of the bag itself.
Meanwhile, the Rolling Tote with a volume of 32.5 litres is also available in black or semi-transparent white and comes with a single large reversible pouch: an orange and white pouch for the white case, and a teal and black pouch for the black one.
The most prominent item in the collection is the Spinner 61. The largest of the lot with a height of 61 cm and a volume of 46.5 litres, it comes with two medium reversible pouches and one large reversible pouch. The white case comes with orange and white, and aqua and pink medium pouches along with an orange and white large pouch.
The black case comes with teal and black, and lime and purple medium pouches as well as a teal and black large pouch. The options for colour blocking are incredible and give a look unmatched by any other hardcase bags or luggage cases. It goes without saying here that the design decision to have a semi-transparent case with vividly coloured pouches is a masterstroke.
The possibilities are exciting, from an aesthetic standpoint. The white-on-white gives a preppy look, while the pink, orange or aqua on white adds a zesty dose of colour to your case. The black case somewhat mutes the colour of the pouch underneath it, but this works very well with teal or purple pouches, as the hint of the colour promises excitement without being too ostentatious.
For those who like things sleek, contemporary and decorous, the black-on black combines both suave and sporty in equal measure. The sturdy polycarbonate material also invites accessorising ‒ something Samsonite and New Balance are aware of ‒ as each bag comes with a collection of stickers and keychain accessories for decoration and personalisation.
The collaboration definitely works, for both sets of consumers: Samsonite’s find themselves with a sporty option that has a unique look never offered by the American born luggage brand, while their New Balance counterparts can buy into a product category that their favourite sportswear brand has never entered before.
Considering its durable, rugged build and unique aesthetics, this collaboration has created tremendous value for their fans, as well as for neutrals. It is also perfectly timed for the late spring/summer travel season. This might not have been the flashiest collaboration, but it works on every level.
The collection is now available both online at samsonite.com.sg and in all of Samsonite’s physical retail stores as well as departmental stores, official distributors and selected New Balance stores.
(Images: New Balance)