7 Most Successful Fashion Collaborations of All Time

Want to know which fashion collaborations were worth the hype? Continue reading to learn more about the most successful in fashion history.

Sep 17, 2021By Adrienne Howell, BA Integrated Studio Arts & BS Apparel Design
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Front row: The Moncler Genius Project X Pierpaolo Piccioli, Adidas X Ivy Park, and Universal Standard X Rodarte; Back row: Target X Isaac Mizrahi and Louis Vuitton X Supreme

 

Fashion collaborations are almost a cliché, with so many brands itching to take part in the hype and excitement a collaboration can offer. Collaborations are profitable forms of marketing because more people will buy into the hype, and in fashion, they have served an important role in the consumer market. They can bring luxury designs at a lower price point, reinvent a brand’s image, and offer the traditionally “unattainable” fashion to the everyday person. Here are seven of the most successful fashion collaborations of all time.

 

A Fashion Collaboration Between Target and Isaac Mizrahi

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Isaac Mizrahi for Target’s Anniversary Collection, 2019, via Target

 

Isaac Mizrahi’s fashion collaboration with Target in 2002 allowed him to create accessible designer fashion at affordable prices. Mizrahi’s fashion career started by creating provocative high-fashion pieces. He was known for creating unconventional looks for the time. It was when he started a career in entertainment that Target recognized Mizrahi had commercial appeal and could sell a clothing line. The purpose of the collaboration was to bridge that gap of making clothing with the appearance and style of high-end clothing but at a price that most people could still afford.

 

In campaign ads and commercials, the catchphrase “Luxury for Every Woman Everywhere” encapsulated what his clothing for Target was all about. The collection featured luxe fabrics like suede, corduroy, and cashmere which gave the line its luxury feel. Ever since, there have been collaborations between Target and other designers including Lilly Pulitzer, Jason Wu, Zac Posen, Altuzarra, and Phillip Lim.

 

Mizrahi, however, was not the first designer to collaborate with a mass retailer like Target. Fashion designer Halston collaborated with JCPenney in the 1980s to produce an affordable version of his high-end line. Unfortunately for him, it became a flop because people thought it made his line cheap. Fashion sold in large-chain stores was still seen as cheap, not fashionable. When Mizrahi collaborated with Target in 2002 people were starting to be more open to mass retail fashion. In 2019, Mizrahi was a part of Target’s Anniversary Collection and featured a set of new designs.

 

Louis Vuitton & Supreme

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Louis Vuitton x Supreme trunk, via Christie’s; with Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2017 runway, via Vogue magazine

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This was what streetwear enthusiasts all over the globe had been waiting for: the fashion collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme. It was one of the biggest collaborations seen so far in both streetwear and luxury fashion. Louis Vuitton’s Fall 2017 runway show featured the collaboration with standout items such as a red Louis Vuitton skateboard trunk, denim jackets, backpacks, and phone cases. Supreme’s recognizable bright red color and white logo-box style font was featured alongside Louis Vuitton’s signature monogram print. The collection was only sold in select pop-out stores around the globe and online.

 

However, just before its drop in North America, Louis Vuitton announced that they would no longer be selling the collection in stores or online. This caused even more hype, confusion, and speculation as varied reports started surfacing as to why any further pop-ups were canceled. There was never a definitive reason as to why the collection was cut so short. People have guessed that they sold out most of their inventory in the first drops or overcrowding of stores led to the decision to stop selling any further items. Either way, for the very limited amount of people able to grab hold of these items, the resell market value only increased. It is still counted as one of the most hyped collaborations in fashion, even though it was arguably one of the most exclusive and hard to obtain.

 

Balmain & H&M

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H&M X Balmain collection, 2015, via Elle magazine

 

Collaborations between H&M and luxury designers have become a tradition that includes big press, large performances, and New York City parties. Karl Largfield was the first designer to collaborate with the brand in 2004 and there have since been 19 partnerships with other designers. It has become a way for more people to try signature luxury designs without having to pay large price tags. The H&M X Balmain collection featured 109 pieces ranging from dresses to jackets, accessories, and more. Popular pieces included the beaded garments seen on celebrities like the Kardashians. A custom beaded dress from Balmain’s traditional line can cost over $20,000 alone, while the H&M versions ranged from $500 to $600.

 

What made this fashion collaboration stand out from H&M’s other collaborations is the press attention it received. Supermodels including Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Jourdan Dunn modeled the clothes as well as being featured in a music video for the collection. Olivier Rousteing, creative director for Balmain, has a large social media presence himself. He knows how to use social media to stir buzz and was a large part of the reason the social media presence of the collaboration was a major success. Not only were big names attached to this collection, but the frenzy in obtaining even one item from this line made headlines.

 

Lines formed outside H&M stores on its launch date with people waiting outside for days beforehand. The fashion collaboration also made news because of the resale value that some of the pieces fetched on reseller sites like eBay. It shed light on the negative effects of limited-edition runs in highly sought-after clothing: people with the sole intention of purchasing as much as they can, only to resell the items hours later. It discharges fans who have waited for days only to get nothing.

 

Moncler Genius Project Collaborations

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Images from various the Moncler Genius Project runway shows including Moncler 7 Fragment Hiroshi Fujiwara, Fall 2018; Moncler 1 Pierpaolo Piccioli, Fall 2019; Moncler 2 1952, Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear, via Vogue magazine

 

The Moncler Genius Project/Genius Group is a luxury designer collaboration that operates on a one designer per collection basis. Each collaboration starts with a new designer tasked to create their own collection and showcase their artistic vision. The brand, originally just called Moncler, started out by selling luxury activewear and skiwear. This new structure is an attempt for the brand to revitalize itself while simultaneously catering to the hype of the collaboration.

 

Releasing new collaborations every few months helps keep customers interested and coming back for more. Most fashion collaborations only run for a short amount of time and are limited edition. The idea is that each new collection the Genius group produces has to create further hype and social media buzz, gaining greater influence with a new generation of online consumers.

 

They started with eight designers in 2018 including Pierpaolo Piccioli, Simone Rocha, Moncler 1952, Palm Angels, Noir Kei Ninomiya, Grenoble, Craig Green, and Fragment Hiroshi Fujiwara. Each of these designers has lent a creative hand to the brand. What makes these fashion collaborations interesting is how different each one looks, yet they all contain similar elements of skiwear and activewear. An example of this is the use of the signature down puffer jackets the brand became known for. It has taken on multiple different forms from over-exaggerated coats created by Pierpaolo Piccioli to the deconstructed and sculptural looks designed by Craig Green. The lines range from highly editorial pieces to garments anyone can wear on a daily basis. Hiroshi Fujiwara’s collections contain more streetwear influences while Simone Rocha’s pieces are more feminine and delicate.

 

Adidas and Ivy Park

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Adidas x Ivy Park, 2020, via Adidas website

 

In January of 2020, Adidas announced the debut capsule collection designed by Beyonce’s luxury athleisure brand Ivy Park. The fashion collaboration between Adidas and Ivy Park started in 2019 with the purpose of relaunching Ivy Park within the Adidas brand. The brand was co-founded by Beyonce in 2016. She bought out the rest of her previous partner’s share in 2018. Beyonce later moved on to partner with Adidas and was named the creative director as well.

 

The collaboration with sportswear giant Adidas led Beyonce’s brand to release something that she previously didn’t cover: sneakers. Her first launch contained four sneakers that paired with the clothing and accessories also offered throughout the line. Since then the collaboration has had three separate launches. With each new launch, the fashion collaboration grows in popularity. Her third release called Icy Park featured famous faces including Kaash Paige, Hailey Bieber, and Akesha Murray. The launches always sell out very quickly.

 

The brand uses social media to enhance the hype of the releases. Back in 2020, celebrities were posting the large orange PR boxes filled with items from the first Ivy Park X Adidas launch. This helped the brand gain not only media attention but also gave fans a sneak preview of the collection. Their partnership also showcases inclusivity in sizing and gender with pieces ranging from XXXS-4X while also being gender-neutral. In the campaign ads, the impactful imagery demonstrates Beyonce as the sole owner of her own brand. She models the clothing herself in each iteration of the line which shows the strength and empowerment of being a female entrepreneur.

 

Universal Standard and Rodarte 

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Universal Standard x Rodarte collaboration, 2019, via Vogue magazine

 

In 2019, the fashion label Rodarte and Universal Standard collaborated to produce an inclusive capsule collection. Universal Standard is a clothing company founded on the idea of inclusivity in sizing. Their sizes range from 00 to 40. They were one of the first clothing brands to have such an expansive range of sizes for women.

 

Rodarte focuses on extravagant looks both on and off the runway. Their aesthetic is fantasy meets feminine and quirky. Their gowns have often been worn by celebrities on the red carpet. Both brands were founded by female entrepreneurs Polina Veksler and Alex Waldman (Universal Standard) and Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte). Both brands, while selling different styles, share a common thread of creating fashion for women that embraces femininity and strength.

 

Together, these two brands created eye-catching pieces meant for many different women. They made a four-piece collection with a colorway of red, blush, black, and ivory. The collection featured soft cascading ruffles reminiscent of Rodarte’s glamorous designs. The garments had an affordable price tag and women were able to feel confident and comfortable with the extensive size range that Universal Standard offers.

 

A celebrity that made headlines was actress Krysten Ritter who wore a dress from the Rodarte x Universal Standard collection for a screening of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Ritter, who was pregnant at the time, showcased her baby bump in a red dress. The dress had adjustable ruched straps that could be extended or tightened on the sleeves as well as the sides. It is another example of how the Universal Standard brand reaches out to women in various stages of life.

 

An Art and Fashion Collaboration: Raf Simons & Robert Mapplethorpe 

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Raf Simons x Robert Mapplethorpe collaboration, Spring 2017, Vogue; with Lucinda’s Hand by Robert Mapplethorpe, 1985, via the New York Times

 

It is difficult to take the images of an artist’s work and effectively translate them onto the runway without copying and pasting renowned artworks onto clothing. This was the challenge that designer Raf Simons had when The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation contacted the designer for an opportunity to collaborate. Simons had taken part in other fashion collaborations previously, including one with Sterling Ruby in 2014.

 

Simons’ designs represent blends of punk, streetwear, and traditional high fashion. Robert Mapplethorpe is known for addressing issues in his art that were considered taboo like BDSM, S&M, and sexuality. His art influenced many artists after him, including Simons, who used his photographs as inspiration for the fashion collaboration.

 

In Raf Simons’ spring 2017 menswear collection, each outfit featured printed elements of Mapplethorpe’s photographs, including flowers, traditional portraits, and hand portraits. Simons embodied Mapplethorpe’s work further by using a light, monochromatic color palette with pops of red, pink, and purple. Leather bucket hats, overalls, and belt/neckties are also nod to Mapplethorpe, as are elements of BDSM. The styling of the garments in Simons’ collection is very layered, with oversized menswear shirts and cardigans that cradle Mapplethorpe’s images. For Simons, it was important to blend his entire outfits to Mapplethorpe’s aesthetic, rather than just copying the artist’s photographs onto garments.



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By Adrienne HowellBA Integrated Studio Arts & BS Apparel DesignAdrienne currently works as a photographer and visual artist in the Midwest. She earned degrees from Iowa State University with a BA in Integrated studio arts, focusing on drawing & painting, and a BS in Apparel Design with an emphasis on fashion and textiles.