Sunday, April 03, 2011

Collaboration as the new normal

Compared to just five years ago, RTW menswear has seen a renaissance in terms of selection of different "silhouettes" and more frequent product refresh cycles. A key ingredient of this renaissance is industry collaboration.

There are two types of collaboration - brand and production. The first type gets most of the press. This often means the pairing of a contemporary designer with a retailer. Witness this partial list of such menswear collaborations:

  • Jil Sander and Uniqlo
  • Gant by Michael Bastian
  • J.Press for Urban Outfitters
  • APC and Carhartt
  • Bespoken and Turnbull & Asser
  • Rag & Bone and Timberland
  • Steven Alan and Dockers

Gant's campus store in New Haven, CT is a mash-up of a defunct American trad retail storefront (Langrock's) with all three Gant lines - Gant, Gant Rugger and Gant by Michael Bastian.

The other type of collaboration is more behind the scenes and takes advantage of "Made in USA" to reinforce a heritage and/or authenticity branding message. Hence, the tapping of Brooklyn-based suitmaker Martin Greensfield by the likes of Band of Outsiders, Rag & Bone and Freemans Sporting Club.

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