GROUND_WORK 04: When Two Become One
By David Eardley, in conversation with Asia Grant
GROUND_WORK is a four-part series exploring Redoux's journey of identity building.
It’s a very peculiar time to be alive (though perhaps this applies to any point in history), particularly as a small brand, mainly because internet culture and the rise of the hype beast (“A person who is devoted to acquiring fashionable items”, as the dictionary defines it) have changed the face of branding forever. Nowadays, brands are just as likely to have drops as they are seasons, spokespeople are everyday people with the most followers, and collaborations both sensible and extreme result in intersectional explorations of cross disciplinary branding.
Collaborations as a concept are worth examining, mainly because they give very real life to the expression “sum greater than the parts,” creating fascinating scenarios where cross species baby brands are conceived from the entanglement of parent brands. We can think of this intermingling like we do simple genetics: what traits does a brand collaboration inherit from each of its parents? Are the traits conducive to the success of the collaboration? For this iteration of GROUND_WORK, we’re going to explore some of these questions.
Let’s Get Into It: Success in Collaboration
The topic of collabs is one dear to our founder Asia’s heart, and we worked together to identify some brands that she sees as success stories:
Iconic: Telfar x UGG
“UGG + Telfar share strong brand identity elements that are almost synonymous with the brands’ names,” Asia expounds. “For UGG, the shape, color, and materials of their classic boots. For Telfar, the embossed logo featured on all its bags. Blending these iconic brand symbols expands each brand’s own signature twist, resulting in something new that is still inherently true to each brand’s ethos.”
“Something else both brands share is a sense of luxury, but with a price point of accessibility that doesn’t share the highly prohibitive cost of most luxury houses. The most interesting part about this collaboration is that it is ongoing, allowing for continuous exploration and new expressions of each brand.”
Experimental + Conceptual: Byredo x Ojas
“In the ‘classic’ luxury space, brands are always looking for new ways to have people perceive and interact with their products. This collab in particular explores the intersection of scent, space and sound; both scent and sound can COMPLETELY fill a room, and the design of the collaboration’s “scent dispenser,” also called the Stereophonique (fun fact: the original meaning of the word ‘stereo’ is “solid, 3 dimensional”), makes it looks like a classical trumpet horn turntable. This one feels interesting because it’s both a collectible and a commentary on the concept of each of the brands products, mission, values, more so than simply a piece of technology.”
Cute and Safe: Balmain x Barbie
“This collab strikes a perfect blend between the aspiration of our childhood and the aspirational luxury of adulthood,” shares Asia. This collaboration also rightfully sticks to their customer base - the Balmain audience trusts the brand to keep their aesthetic colorful, energetic, and upscale.
Life at Extremes: Gucci x Cadillac x Hot Wheels
“Here we see three different categories of aspiration that intersect at multiple stages in life: Gucci and Cadillac are clear signalers of luxury lifestyle for adults, while Hot Wheels has the element of collectibility for both children and adults, past and present. Similar to the Balmain x Barbie, marrying the three brings a satisfying gratification of nostalgia while maintaining a level of fun.”
Striking a Balance
The success of a collaboration often depends on how you measure success. “I wouldn’t say that there aren’t collaborations that don't work,” explains Asia, “because it's just a matter of what the objective of the collaboration is.”
Is the goal of a collaboration to increase exposure for one or all of the collaborators? Is it to create a market that the consumers didn’t even realize they wanted to partake in? Is it to elevate a more affordable brand, or humanize a luxury one? All of these methods of measurement have value for success analysis, and a brand collab that excels in one may fail miserably in the other. All in all, it’s rare to see a collaboration that can’t be labeled as a success in some manner, even if it’s for making content for an interesting headline.
What This Means for Redoux
This is our philosophy: “What makes a great collaboration is not only its novelty, but also its ability to be both aspirational and evoke emotion, like nostalgia,” explains Asia. “If you think of a brand like a film, I would equate collaborations to be those seemingly out-of-place scenes that show a deeper side of the character, giving us a more palpable understanding of who they are as a person and what drives them.”
“A true collaboration is meant to evoke a sense of whimsy and fun, in a way that is unexpected and touches on multiple intersecting aspects of a lifestyle. It should elicit a positive visceral response. Ultimately, collaborations are meant to expand cultural capital for all collaborators.”
If you couldn’t tell already, collaborations are front of mind for us here at Redoux. Collabs help not only to grow our brand, but also to expand our audience’s concept of what Redoux can do and be. The beauty of collaborations is their sense of limitlessness, and we’ve been cooking up some interesting ones. Community building continues to drive a great deal of our work, as we look toward the future.
Explore the other GROUND_WORK essays: