It’s not a secret that over the last decade, the popularity of art-fusion collaborations has grown dramatically. While the most talked-about collaborations seem to come and go in a flash of white-hot attention, the less successful ones linger behind in social-media silence, in hopes of one day selling out.
One decision a brand embarking on an art-fusion collaboration must face is whether to make their product plentiful and part of their regular line, or to conceive it as a capsule collection (AKA, limited edition). Is the potential for higher demand worth sacrificing the potential of moving a higher volume of product?
Let’s look at some examples.
In Comme des Garçons’ multiple collaborations with New York fashion brand, Supreme, the brands chose to create capsule collections. They also chose to make consumers jump through quite a few hoops in order to even become eligible to make their ‘must-have’ purchase. The pre-requisite for each Comme des Garçons x Supreme collaboration is that every online shopper must first apply to buy. Second, the keen online shopper must then wait until his or her name is chosen and pre-qualified for an online purchase. Last, only on the day the collection launches, the selected shopper is notified by email about his or her eligibility to order online while the limited quantities last.
While this may sound discouraging to many consumers, it’s important to recognize that to these brands’ target consumer, it is irresistible.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin.
H&M engages regularly in collaborations – with Martin Margiela, Isabel Marant and Lanvin, to name a few. Usually, on the day the launch, H&M packs its selected worldwide locations with immense amounts of the collection, creating a sense of plenty rather than scarcity. If the collection doesn’t sell extremely well in the first few days, the unsold pieces from the collection often remain scattered across the stores, while many of the sold pieces quickly make their way to eBay resellers.
If eBay can be considered a value indicator, then CDG x Supreme pieces clearly outmuscle the H&M collaborations. Not only by their outstanding resale value, but also by their distinctive promise that the collection will be worn only by a limited number of people on the streets, bringing prestige not only to the brands themselves, but also to their highly sophisticated customers.
So do the benefits of a capsule collection outweigh their smaller profit potential you ask? If art-fusion collaborations are about infusing newness and relevance while consequently increasing desire and reducing need to sell, then ‘less is more’ is the preferable formula. Consider it an investment in brand equity. Even for brands with deep pockets, doing highly selective and perhaps less frequent capsule collections can bring a higher return on their investment in the long run. Building a reputation for creating irresistible art-fusion collaborations that come in small numbers accompanied by high-demand is a dream more brands will eventually find worth pursuing.
In our next post, we’ll take a closer look into the disappearance of store displays and mannequins. See you then.