“This collaboration works because of our authentic connection — bringing two brands and their communities of fierce women together.”
That according to Kerry O’Brien, founder of the apparel brand Commando and one half of the uber popular Commando x Jennifer Fisher brand collaboration. Fisher is the founder of her eponymous jewelry and lifestyle brand. Both wore each other’s products and a collaboration just seemed natural.
“Jennifer Fisher and Commando share a longstanding mutual respect as female founders, forged through a personal connection with the products we both proudly wear,” shared O’Brien announcing the recent collaboration.
This notion of authenticity – finding a common thread or bridge that genuinely connects the brand partners – underlies the strategies and correlates to the success of recent brand collaborations.
That may explain why a three-year-old intimates brand started by Kim Kardashian and born on social media chose to partner with a fifth-generation, family-owned crystal brand from Austria – and launch a wildly popular collaboration – Skims x Swarovski.
While the two brands may seem like unlikely bedfellows to some, they share an important ethos – they both exude a sense of empowerment and extravagance while being affordable and accessible to women everywhere. Swarovski has partnered with brands like Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, but also Adidas and Disney. Skims has a brand partnership with Fendi but was just named the official underwear partner of the WNBA.
“Skims shares the same values of empowerment and self-expression as Swarovski, and the synergy of visions between both brands has been organic and seamless,” Swarovski’s creative director Giovanna Engelbert told Vogue.
The Benefits of Authentic Brand Collaborations
When two brands find that genuine connection, the benefits of collaboration can be significant.
Attract publicity and build buzz around your brand.
Brands with good social followings can tease the collaboration drop in the days and weeks leading up to the launch – effectively free marketing – creating anticipation, excitement and, importantly, demand. Kardashian posted on Instagram six days before her launch and quickly racked up more than 28,000 comments including, “Soooo obsessed”, “I need this entire line! Soooooo pretty!!!” and “Best campaign ever!!!!”. Apparently, those followers were also buyers as the key pieces of the collection sold out within hours.
Reach new customers through cross-promotions.
Fisher has leveraged numerous creative collaborations to expand her customer base. Strategically crafted social media, online and in-store cross-promotions have introduced customers, originally shopping for furniture, bedding, shoes and apparel, to the iconic jewelry for which she is best known. And vice versa. Loyalists of Fisher’s products, for example, were invited to an in-store launch event at the Commando pop-up in New York where they discovered the fit and fabric that has made Commando’s products so popular. “Collaborating with other females and creating new connections within the fashion industry outside your category is beneficial for both brands involved,” says Fisher.
Collaborations often result in limited-edition collections that consumers highly covet, driving up demand…and sometimes price. Earlier this year, Fendi celebrated the 25th anniversary of its iconic “Baguette” with a Fendi x Tiffany & Co. collaboration that offered the iconic bag in Tiffany blue. Demand for the $5,500 bag was so strong that Tiffany needed a virtual waiting room to manage online traffic to prevent the site from crashing.
Leverage new and user-generated content for your brand.
Data reveals 81% of respondents’ purchase decisions are affected after seeing friends, family or influencers post about it. Leveraging content from a collaboration launch event or resharing consumer-posted content (whether products are purchased or gifted) is an effective way to drive purchase decisions. The launch event for the recent Jean-Michel Basquiat x alice + olivia collaboration (a partnership celebrating self-expression) attracted A-list celebs, including Fisher, Natalia Dyer, Nicky Hilton and Victoria Justice, all of whom posted authentic content celebrating the brand.
Grow your social media followers and engagement.
Earlier this year, Louis Vuitton brought back its 2012 collaboration with Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. The famous infinity dots were a hit back then – when Louis Vuitton didn’t even have an Instagram account – and the collaboration remains an engaging campaign today. When the new campaign launched earlier this year, a post with Anok Yai racked up more than 1 million likes – nearly forty times the average engagement per post at the time. That post continues to attract attention and currently has more than 1.5 million likes.
2023 was a banner year for brand collaborations – truly authentic, unique, creative and highly coveted partnerships. “I love working with like-minded female founders who are not only creative but bad ass,” says O’Brien. And, according to Fisher, these collaborations – when done right – can be an important brand building strategy. “Collaborating on products with like-minded women is an amazing way to broaden your connections in business.”