Here I thought only Cinderella gets to be the belle of the ball, but Supreme has proven that status quo can be challenged and conquered without even trying – talk about Marketing Pyrotechnics. They have done what no brand in the fashion industry has ever dared to (do). No, I am not referring to the rumoured acquisition but the collaboration. This is probably this year’s most talked-about collaboration.
When the first model walked down the runway with Louis Vuitton smothered in Supreme red, there was shock, there was marvel and then there were shinny eyes. For the first time, Supreme loyalists and Louis Vuitton customers could get away with fashion fraternisation.
Let’s leave customers out of this for a little bit and put on our marketing heads for a moment. Looking at how the fashion market is progressing, is it really a surprise that this campaign has been successful? If combining two completely different strategies can be jackpot, why can’t two completely different brands be gold? Success is found in diversity, after all Stephen R. Covey did say, “Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.” LV and Supreme have proven that even in fashion, differences are strength.
Looking at the branding of both Louis Vuitton and Supreme we can attribute the success of the collaboration to not only the skill of execution, but the essence of their brands.
Supreme and Louis Vuitton have intentional purposes tied to their brands. One of these purposes is distinct identity. When a customer puts on these brands they know who and what they are and those around them have no difficulty distinguishing them from others. While money is the driver and motivator for these brands, the reason they thrive is because the customer can feel the sense of purpose, they can feel who they are.
Both brands are consistent in what they do and how they do it. There is alignment with who they say they are and their purpose. Take Supreme for instance, they are a skateboard, hip hop and punk rock clothing brand; they serve the youth culture, merging rebellion and style. When a customer puts on a Supreme hoodie with a Supreme baseball cap, they feel they are exactly that: a rebel with style.
The fact that this collaboration has taken place is evidence that both brands are flexible. They are able to adjust while still staying true to their identity. They are not willing to be boxed by their position in the market. Supreme’s fluidity has allowed them to sell not only clothing, but accessories too. One of their most controversial sales items is a brick (yes, an actual brick in Supreme’s iconic red). This flexibility is achieved through one method: communication.
To wow your customers you must be willing to take the risk to fail, to be a miss; and you must be willing to take that leap of faith. As the old adage goes, curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back. The proverb is evident in what Supreme and Louis Vuitton have done. The economic and social risks associated with the collaboration were, on the surface, a death sentence to their brands, but the hype, the sales and a whole new market for the combined branding made it all worthwhile.