At Paris Fashion Week, Balenciaga sent models down the runway with logo hoodies featuring its new partnership with the World Food Programme. Meanwhile, fashion brand Lacoste announced a multi-year partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature with a (now sold out) line of limited edition polo shirts featuring endangered species in place of its signature crocodile. Finally, I am feeling fashion is not so frivolous and here’s why.
I have written about how brand collaborations with streetwear labels like Supreme (with Louis Vuitton) and blue chip brands like DHL (Vetements) and Ikea (Balenciaga) have been creatively keeping luxury brands relevant with Millenials and Gen Z consumers. It’s creative, somewhat accessible and even ironic to see high end fashion labels embracing the past and elevating the everyday. Do we still hate Crocs even after Balenciaga and Jeremy Scott create designs with Crocs? Do I feel better that half of my furniture is from Ikea after knowing that luxury brands love Ikea too? Seeing that Louis Vuitton and Balenciaga are among the top two luxury labels of 2017, their brand collaboration strategies have worked. It’s clear that fashion brands can start conversations and cultural shifts, so it’s refreshing to see a real shift happening towards using their voices and their power for a good cause.
Balenciaga’s message at Fashion Week “Balenciaga Supports” featuring items with the World Food Programme logo and its slogan “Changing Lives, Saving Lives” is hopefully the beginning of meaningful trend. According to multiple articles, 10% of sales of Balenciaga’s Fall 2018 collection (which runs from August 2018 – February 2019) will go directly to support the organization. Balenciaga also donated $250,000 to the World Food Programme. It’s both a caring move and a smart decision to align with a cause, seeing that young consumers care about their world and their environment more than ever (and probably more than they care about Ikea).
On March 1, Lacoste released a limited edition range of white polo shirts, replacing its iconic crocodile (first created in 1936) with a series of 10 endangered species. This collection, which also featured fashion on the runway, is part of a multi-year brand partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 1,775 polo shirts were released – the number of each individual polo design corresponds to the number of the species it features left on our planet. The shirts include endangered species like the Burmese Roofed Turtle and the California Porpoise. From what I understand, the collection sold out immediately on March 1, but is being re-stocked. It is unclear as to whether the sales of the polo shirts are being donated to IUCN, but at the very least the purchase raises awareness for the cause (not to mention awareness for Lacoste).
I have to admit, I was beginning to feel a bit disenfranchised after seeing images from this past month’s runway shows on Instagram. Gucci models carried odd objects on the runway like replicas of their heads and real pet dragons, models walked on popcorn at Calvin Klein – it’s a ton of fun to watch, but left me feeling almost exploited. Why are consumers paying for these events and what are you trying to tell us? Now that you have our attention, Fashion, I think consumers deserve more. Balenciaga and Lacoste are two great examples of how brand collaboration can benefit the world in the truest, fullest sense of the word.