Is the future of fashion design to be found in collaboration?

A quick look at some of the most prolific fashion publications and blogs reveals huge numbers of collaborative efforts between labels and other creatives, from artists and illustrators to architects and musicians. Adidas x Maharishi, Trickers x Comme des Garcons, Melissa x Zaha Hadid… that little ‘x’ is popping up on my RSS feeds more and more these days.

But does this surge of collaborative work represent a democratization of design across disciplines, perhaps as a result of the freedom of information and communication of modern times, or is it symptomatic of the fashion industry’s increasing lack of inspiration and connection with everyday consumers?

Personally, and call me a cynic if you want, I think it’s the latter. Take the aforementioned Adidas x Maharishi Forum Mid shoe:

Let’s be honest, they’re not exactly revolutionary are they? Nice though they might be, they’re not exactly that different from the original Forums, apart from the conspicuous Maharishi logo. (I’ve used a blue colourway to give the fairest comparison!)

As an aside, I personally think that high-end labels’ attempts to tap into the casual sportswear market have been nothing less than disastrous, collaboration or not. When Michelle Obama was pictured wearing a pair of $540 Lanvin trainers back in May, the fashion world was up in arms, telling anyone who would listen about how they’re a cult favourite with fashionistas everywhere… I felt like I was the only one thinking “Yeah, but they’re disgusting?!” I mean seriously, $540 for these?

Y-3 got it right I suppose, by creating an entirely new label as opposed to a half-assed attempt at making high-end design accessible. H&M is probably deserving of a mention here too, with their exhaustive list of collaborations with everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to Jimmy Choo.

I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong… it’s not to say that labels shouldn’t experiment and bring others in, but come on, shameless attempts to hook the punters by slapping on two logos and an exorbitant price tag is a bit of a joke. Stick to what you’re good at, that’s what I say.

James

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