2021 Recap: 8 of Our Favorite Fashion Collaborations, 'Swaps,' and ’Hacks' of the Year - Lifestyle Asia

The list includes Tiffany & Co.’s week-old collaboration with Patek Philippe, which already has pieces auctioned for 100 times its retail price.

Whether it’s to tap a new market for themselves or further heighten their luxurious image, fashion brands have been collaborating with not only each other but with companies outside their realm. After all, there hasn’t been a shortage of disruptive collaborations throughout this year.

READ ALSO: Good Game: 4 Of This Year’s Gucci Collaborations, From Fashion Collections To Gaming Consoles

But has the fashion industry been pushing “collabs” too much? According to global sales, the market size was valued at $110.64 billion despite the pandemic last year. And in a report by Business Wire, it will grow to $153.97 billion by 2026. Even though great fashion is subjective, numbers don’t lie. 

In line with this, here are some of our favorite fashion collaborations, “swaps,” and “hacks” of the year. The eight examples are just some proof that creativity will always find a way to thrive despite a persisting pandemic.

Gucci x Balenciaga 

To mark Gucci’s centenary year, the two Kering brands dubbed their partnership as “The Hacker Project.” Instead of marketing the collaboration as a seamless merging of Gucci and Balenciaga’s design elements, the former’s creative director Alessandro Michele aimed to “contaminate” the latter’s classic pieces.

The idea birthed a collection of unapologetically monogram and logo-centric garments, shoes, bags, and leatherwear. 

Rick Owens x Dr. Martens

The American designer is known for his dark sensibility and inclination to a gothic-grunge aesthetic, while Dr. Martens is a 74-year-old British brand famous for its functional footwear styles. One of their collaboration’s highlights is Owens’ take on DM’s 1460 Bex boot, where he incorporates pentagram lacing just like from designs in his own footwear line.  

Rick Owens’ take on Dr. Martens’ 1460 Bex boot / Photo from drmartens.com
Patek Philippe x Tiffany & Co.

Here’s the newest collaboration on the list as it just launched last week, and it made headlines yesterday with its special “Tiffany Blue” Nautilus for Patek Philippe’s 170th anniversary. The watch auctioned for over $6 million or 100 times its retail price. In addition, according to Thierry Stern, Patek Philippe’s president, “there is a secret on every piece,” which added more intrigue for watch enthusiasts, collectors, and bidders. 

Paul Smith x Mini Cooper

Who says fashion has to stop at your wardrobe? Paul Smith and Mini Cooper’s partnership showed us what two British heritage brands could do for a more sustainable (and stylish) automotive industry. With a theme titled “Simplicity, Transparency, Sustainability,” Paul Smith reimagined the car company’s well-known MINI Cooper SE. They utilized 3D-printed recycled plastic and rubber, while parcel shelves are made of cork and door handles constructed from wound-climbing ropes.

Paul Smith’s sustainable design for Mini Cooper’s MINI Cooper SE / Photo from paulsmith.com

Louis Vuitton x Fornasetti

Although their collection offers everything from clothing to accessories, we consider its bags the highlights—especially since Louis Vuitton rarely offers their iconic designs for reinterpretation. “Exploring the Fornasetti archives had the excitement of an archaeological dig, searching for and finding drawings from the past to give them a new life for Louis Vuitton—for now, and the future,” LV’s artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière said. The collaboration incorporated Fornasetti’s prints into LV’s Petite Malle, Keepall Bandouliere 45, and Capucines MM.

Kai x Gucci 

Here’s another Gucci collaboration we consider noteworthy—their collection inspired by Kai, the Teddy Bear. It’s named after Kim Jong-in or Kai of K-pop group EXO, Gucci’s first Koren Global Brand Ambassador. The collection of menswear, womenswear, handbags, footwear, and accessories aims to take you back to your childhood with its playful designs. Gucci x Kai reminded us that even the world of high-fashion isn’t that serious—no matter your age, there’s always room to have fun.

Fendi x Versace

Although it’s technically not a collaboration, since the two brands communicated that it’s a “swap,” it’s worth adding to our list of fashion partnerships of the year. If you consider the term “collab” saturated at this point, Donatella Versace and Silvia Venturini Fendi broke the trend by designing for each other’s brands instead of working together.

In the Versace family palazzo in Milano, Fendi and Versace showcased “Fendace,” where each house’s show was split into two segments. The designers never created pieces outside their respective families’ fashion brands, but it happened out of their “love for each other.”

Louis Vuitton x NBA

Last year, Louis Vuitton announced a three-year creative partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA). “This collection celebrates the cultural contribution of basketball and its diverse characters, and the idea of relatability as a force of unity,” LV’s men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh said before his unprecedented passing last month.

Under Abloh, the collaboration unified French craftsmanship and American sports with emblems of the two institutions through clothing and accessory lines. 

Banner photo from @zkdlin on Instagram

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