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What Yeezy Gap’s Recent Numbers Say About State of Collab Culture

Co-branded collections have lost their cachet. That’s the conclusion of a recent report by retail intelligence firm Edited, which found that the abundance of these partnerships has diluted their appeal, effectiveness and value both now and in the future.

While past super-hyped collaborations such as 2017’s Supreme x Louis Vuitton were pretty much instant sellouts, more recent ones such as Balenciaga’s and Gucci’s Hacker Project released in November 2021 (which Gucci said was not a collaboration but a “hacking” between the two Kering-owned brands) took significantly longer to go out of stock. While the Hacker Project did sell out online, Edited discovered that it took an average of 34 days to sell through globally (across the U.S., U.K., South Korea, China, Japan, Hong Kong) with 15 percent of styles replenished. Sneakers moved faster than the other items, however. They sold through on Gucci sites in 21 days.

Judging from that joint venture’s performance, more accessible price points also apparently dampen consumer demand and buzz for collabs. Although the Baleciaga x Gucci capsule was far from cheap–prices ranged from $240 for a silk scarf to $13,000 for a crystal Hourglass jacket later worn by Beyonce–its $1,290 sneakers stuck around far longer than the 41 percent pricier $2,200 Dior x Air Jordans that were gone in minutes in 2020.

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Edited also said that as of mid-August, 70 percent of the Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga collection that initially dropped in February 2022–with average prices approximately $1,000 less than Balenciaga–was still available on Gap’s website in the U.S. Currently, 81 percent of the collection is still available online with new products having been added since August. Likewise, the Adidas x Gucci collaboration, launched in June 2022, still had 68 percent of available product.

“This suggests retailers are taking a different approach to collaborations, focusing more on accessibility and long-term partnerships rather than exclusivity,” the report said.

The study also narrowed in on H&M specifically to prove that collaboration price points are dropping from their heyday. The retailer’s co-branded price tags peaked with an average high of $143.60 for the 2014 partnership with Alexander Wang and were above $500 for certain items in the 2016 cooperation with Kenzo. However, more recent releases such as collections with Smiley and Iris Apfel (both 2022) and Simone Rocha (2021) came nowhere near those costs.

Edited also believes that H&M’s decision to switch from offering one special collaboration annually to releasing them arbitrarily may be a cause of consumer ennui regarding these brand couplings.

The onset of less exclusive offerings may also affect collaborative pieces’ long-term value. Edited pointed out that a five-year-old hoodie from the Supreme x Louis Vuitton drop recently sold for 400 percent more than its original price on Vestiaire Collective. In comparison, one of the Dove hoodies from Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga only fetched a 33 percent markup on Vinted. Edited stresses, however, that this is an individual example and not necessarily reflective of the entire resale market.

In sum, Edited warned that fashion’s current teeming collaboration herd—which has been repopulated by Tommy Hilfiger and Richard Quinn, Keds and Altuzarra, Mara Hoffman and West Elm, Levi’s and Ambush, and Wrangler and Gant (among others) in the last month alone—needs to be thinned if these partnerships are to remain powerful consumer magnets.

“Though products can accumulate value over time, the evolution of AI and bots allow consumers to buy products faster, speeding up demand for collaborations, which have now reached saturation point,” the report said. “While there will still be interest in new drops, 2022 and beyond will see an increased pressure on brand partnerships to create something special in order to cut through the noise and avoid becoming ‘just another collaboration.’”