The Art of Collaboration

Writer: Kendrick Porter; Editor: Kadeem Pilgrim

Collaborations in fashion, much like in music, have become a mainstay in pop culture. From Ariana Grande’s collaboration with Givenchy to Gucci Mane’s newly minted partnership with Gucci (no pun intended), more and more luxury brands are starting to look no farther than the Billboard Hot 100 for inspiration. 

Moreover, artists like Rihanna and Billie Eilish are also playing a major role in turning high-end fashion brands like Louis Vuitton and MCM into household names amongst Gen Z consumers.

Piper Jaffray's “Taking Stock with Teens” fall survey, which polled 9,500 students, reported that 14% of the respondents named Louis Vuitton as their fashion brand of choice; LV came in second to Michael Kors, which garnered 27% of teen respondents votes for their fashion brand of choice.

Most recently, Nicki Minaj took to the internet to announce her upcoming collaboration with Fendi; this following the rapper’s unexpected (and unwarranted) announcement that she would be retiring from the rap game - you gotta love a good old’ IOS press release, am I right?

And as the world girded its loins in preparation for Nicki’s Fendi drop, Gucci Mane took to Instagram to confirm a collaboration that seemed destined to happen from the moment he dropped his first single. He would be joining forces with the Gucci brand to produce a collection of 70’s inspired pieces, including a dope floral tracksuit reminiscent of Studio54’s heyday. 

But what makes Gucci’s collection, “Gucci Cruise 20”, such an important topic of conversation within the black community, however, are the events that occurred before the collaboration was announced. 

Gucci was in hot water a mere 9 months ago after releasing an $890 jumper reminiscent of a blackface costume. The tone-deaf decision to premiere the highly offensive piece cost the brand the support of a number of black celebrities, as well as its financial investment in the production of the jumpers. 

Ultimately, however, the move proved itself to be a blessing in disguise.  Following the backlash, Gucci brought on former MLB executive, Renee Tirado, to lead its diversity initiatives as the brand’s Global Head of Diversity.  Moreover, the backlash likely played a role in the brand’s decision to partner with Big Guwop himself.

Ultimately, the art of collaboration is brilliant in that it unites two powerful brands with disparate perspectives. In doing so, the world of fashion is often gifted unique collections that tell a story and, more often than not, increase the clout of both parties. 

And then there are those occasional instances when collaborations are meant to do more. Every once and awhile brands use collaborations to invite opposing perspectives to the table, to start conversations, and to enact change. 

Whether or not that’s Gucci’s true intention, only time will tell. Until then, you can catch me in my Cross Colours