Iconic Parisian concept retail store Colette is closing its doors today December 20, 2017. In its final days the store had been wall to wall packed with people bidding adieu and buying products from its many exclusive brand and fashion collaborations which are soon to become collector’s items.
If you’ve ever wondered how Adidas and Nike made it from Footlocker to high fashion, or why every other e-commerce start up is using the color cobalt blue in its branding or why luxury branded ping pong paddles are hotter than handbags, you can blame it on the brilliant co-founders of Colette. Opened in 1997 by Colette Rousseaux and her co-founder daughter Sarah Andelman, Colette pretty much defined concept retailing today by combining luxury fashion + streetwear + art+ pop culture + food. Think Chanel + Adidas or Hello Kitty + Playboy.
And have you ever wondered why it’s suddenly de rigeuer for fashion brands like Balenciaga and Vetements to collaborate with “low brow”, blue chip brands like Ikea and mail carrier DHL? It’s pretty much because of Colette – brand collaborations were the cornerstone Colette’s retail strategy. Colette’s collaborations were authentic and democratic well before these two qualities became the basis of everyone’s else’s marketing plan. Rousseaux and Andelman were smart enough to understand that even though we love our stilettos, we all live in our Adidas, so why not make them unique and fashionable through collaborations?
In an interview with Complex during this year’s Complexcon festival, an convention dedicated to music, pop culture and sneakers, Sarah Andelman declared her passion for brand collaborations and talks about what it was like to work with sneaker brands like Adidas in the early days. You can find the full interview here.
Maybe it’s because I work in the field of licensing and brand collaborations, but I find it fascinating and inspiring to hear Andelman’s words. Colette’s brand collaborations extended beyond its own doors to its own product lines with H&M and last year The Gap ran a month long holiday pop up in New York. There are very few multi-brand retailers whose brand identity and influence is, in many ways, stronger than the individual brands they carry. Colette broke the mold.
Colette may be closing its doors on December 20th, but not without an impressive roster of brand collaborations including Saint Laurent who will move into the retail space when Colette closes. I wanted to pay homage to Colette’s collaborations with this post. I am pretty sure this isn’t the end for the Colette brand and Sarah Andelman, and in fact I believe its just the beginning.