We love our luxury handbags. Our classic flaps, iconic saddle bags, daring micro clutches and intricate book totes. Sometimes, though, don’t you wish you could rock both designs together at the same time? Never more has that desire been fulfilled than recently with brands like Gucci pioneering the luxury brand collaboration. The house joined forces with Balenciaga to create a dual-insignia embossed collection from ready-to-wear to handbags. However, for luxury lovers everywhere, are we sensing that less is more, and more is too much? Does a hybrid handbag make more sense in theory than in practise? Let’s explore that…
Brand collaborations are not a thing of the past, nor are they a new trend. A recent analysis by the Business of Fashion points to the strategy’s early roots at the beginning of the 2000s. Author Pierre Mallevays highlights that traditionally, luxury designers sought out sales volume/mass production retail partners to team up with. As a result, brands were made more accessible to a broader consumer market and both companies benefitted from a boost in sales. However, this tactic soon become overplayed and consumers became bored with the same old announcements.
Recognizing this, luxury power players started to partner with mid-tier retailers, and even each other, rather than seeking viable options outside the industry. For example, brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci launched collections with streetwear brand Supreme and outerwear gear outlet The North Face, respectively. Both partnerships went on to be extremely successful and well received overall. It is important to note, though, that just as is done in boutiques and on websites, handbags and ready-to-wear are distinctly different parts of a brand’s collection. As much as we love a Louis Vuitton sweater with the Supreme logo sprawled on the front, or a North Face jacket embellished with GG lettering, do luxury clothing collaborations translate well to handbags too?
A question also worth asking is if these collaborations will attract new customers to the luxury handbag market. Are fans of Supreme more likely to migrate to Louis Vuitton? Or are luxury lovers now more inclined to sport trendy, casual pieces versus traditional luxe staples? This question is hoped to be both addressed and avoided when high fashion brands partner with each other instead of with companies outside the industry. After all, someone who loves a Prada shoulder bag, might also be interested in a Balenciaga hour glass bag… wouldn’t they?
Handbag lovers, what do we think? How are we liking brand collaborations? Will this strategy make us want these unique items more? Or should a re-edition stay a re-edition, and a baguette stay a baguette? Who do you think should collaborate next? Chanel and Louboutin perhaps? Or maybe Versace and Bottega Veneta? Let’s hear your thoughts below!