The most talked-about fashion collaboration of 2017 has launched in cities across the world as Louis Vuitton and Supreme launched their Pop-Up Stores across 8 top locations.
These two global brands represent very different demographics and aesthetics, high fashion and streetwear. Supreme was created in New York in 1994, known for their street clothes and skateboard influence, selling merchandise for around $90. Where Louis Vuitton is one of the most luxurious high fashion labels, where a handbag is priced at over $1600. Despite these differences, their collaboration has resulted in a symbiotic relationship – perhaps one of the greatest ever.
Interestingly, 17 years ago, LVMH filed a lawsuit against Supreme for the copyright of their logo on their merchandise. Whereas now, Supreme was invited and appeared at the Paris Fashion Week unveiling their collaboration; which includes the original product Supreme were sued for. Now that’s pretty spectacular.
With Pop-Up Stores in 8 cities – London, Paris, Beijing, Bondi Beach, Seoul, Tokyo, Los Angeles and Miami – all opening doors on Friday 30th June, there has been a major global execution for their synchronized product releases that have resulted in an unprecedented amount of press. This collaboration epitmozes the ever-evolving demands of our society, with 7 lessons all retailers can learn from and apply.
1 – Find a symbiotic collaborator
Louis Vuitton’s decision to collaborate with Supreme was surprising, yet due to the success, seen as one of the most remarkable collaborations of all time. Both brands are well-renowned for their fashion expertise and large influence over their respective markets. They also were able to be symbiotic, in the sense that LV was able to tap into a new market, and Supreme could charge higher prices for their merchandise. This will then give them the ability to price their future products at a higher price than before. They were also able to specify their market, as this collection is specifically targeted at menswear, which relates to Supreme’s branding strategy of targeting men and street style. Given LV’s status, they were able to debut this line at the Men’s Fashion Week 2017 in Paris.
Looking at both the brand’s choice in collaborating, the route to finding your perfect partner should include:
- Identify key industry players that possess a strong brand image. Collaborating with a brand who own a slice of the market you want to align with will broaden your reach, but it has to work for both parties. Kim Jones, Creative Director of Louis Vuitton said to WWD “You can’t have the conversation of New York men’s wear without Supreme right now, because it’s such a massive global phenomenon.”
- The relationship must be promising to broaden the customer base for both collaborators.
- Brands with complementary differences will gain the most hype. If the brands are too similar and it won’t be newsworthy.
2 – Extensive Launch Planning
After launching the collection at the Louis Vuitton catwalk show at Paris Fashion Week, January 2017, there was of course, a media frenzy. And with hype comes scrutiny, so having your collaboration planned down to the fine details is a must.
The collection was brought to the market through a synchronized launch across 8 cities all on the same day – a global approach that helped them reach as much of their market as possible.
From this lesson, it is recommended to:
- Go to your fans. Pop-Up in the cities where you sell the most products and where your most engaged customers are. In an exclusive interview, a glimpse of LV’s planning was quoted in the same WWD interview, “Jones said the line designed with Supreme would go on sale at select Vuitton stores on July 17, but would probably also be available in temporary locations. ‘We’ll probably make separate stores in areas where both of them are popular’”
- This collaborative project was in the making for a year, meaning it’s worth taking the time to get it right. With two reputations at stake, it’s paramount that both parties have the time to plan, revise, compromise and execute the product to the best of their ability and resources.
- Be mindful of the season, retail sales peak between the months of October and December, with the subsequent drop through January and February.
- Be strategic about the amount of time between announcing the collaboration and the physical launch of the pop-up, allow plenty of time for a social media build up. Louis Vuitton and Supreme went for just under 6 months.
- Take note of global events that may pull your customer’s attention from your project. For example, don’t launch a social media campaign that is not considerate wider cultural events.
3 – Instantly Recognizable Branding
The collaboration of LV’s prestige and high-luxury status with Supreme’s popular streetwear style created something entirely original – luxury meets edgy – a branding strategy seen across their pop-up stores, products and posts. The red and white is an initial strategy used by Supreme to be distinct and bold, in combination with LV’s original print logo. The models they used to promote their merchandise were male influences, including celebrities, as well as models who provide consistency with this edgy vibe to further appeal to their market.
4 – Limit Information & Raise Anticipation
The CEO of LV stated in an interview, “There will be no marketing and no press release. We won’t be pandering to the custom. It’s all about peer-to-peer communication. We provide a very minimum amount of information and let people judge it from there.”
With little knowledge being distributed from either brand, we were all left curious on:
- When the collection would be shown
- When they were going to be available for purchase
- If they were doing pop-up stores or an online drop
- Where the potential pop-up stores would be
- What celebrities would be the face of the collaboration
This last minute information released from Paris Fashion Week attracted mass amount of attention – building up excitement and anticipation. This resulted in free PR for the collection which snowballed around the world.
This shows the importance of building a hype over the release of products and aligned with Supreme’s own strategy, where they launch merchandise every Thursday to their online and retail stores, and do not inform the customers of what will be released. This is significant to build hype and increase press on their products and encourages people to check back for new releases.
5 – Celebrity / Influencer involvement
Despite choosing to have minimal advertising and distribute little information, the brands gave celebrities unreleased merchandise to wear and post on social media. These were a select few, specifically chosen to target multiple markets.
Travis Scott was the first influencer known to be apart of the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme. He was the first person to post photos of items from the collection, wearing the branded shirt, sunglasses, gloves and belt. He was subsequently in the first row of the Paris Fashion Week, watching the runway.
The Beckhams, including David, Brooklyn and Cruz, were the next celebrities known to join the very small group of influencers with this collaboration, wearing merchandise that were still to be released in several months time. They were specifically chosen for the influence they have, commonly seen of wearing luxurious brands, intertwining Louis Vuitton’s brand image.
A$AP Rocky was also a part of this select few, who posted pictures on Instagram wearing unreleased merchandise, appealing to an entirely different market. He has modelled for multiple Supreme products, and is seen as one of the main faces for the brand.
6 – Test, Test, Test
Louis Vuitton does not disclose information on sale figures, however the success of the pop up stores with the LV Chapman Brothers collection was the reason that LV plan on carrying on using temporary retail spaces to launch new collections. Sparking the idea to expand their launch with even more pop-up stores in cities around the world.
It’s all about researching, testing and measuring. Trying pop-up stores in multiple locations will provide insight on the most successful locations and glean more consumer research that will help you best understand your market.
- Research neighborhoods where your customers shop
- Check where your competitors have hosted pop-ups in the past and learn from their success, as well as their mistakes.
- Test-drop products online alongside social media promotion to get a real insight on which products your customers react to best.
- Involve influencers and your most loyal customers. Long-time advocates of the brand will help ensure your target market is reached.
7 – Take risks
Louis Vuitton is known to target the high-end of the fashion market, with their strategy based on a high-income mature segment. Thus, this collaboration has resulted in an audacious project that has the ability to greatly benefit the brand, by tapping into a new market.
Luxury street style has become increasingly popular in recent years. Fashion streetwear fanatics are always on the hunt for that new product, the next rare release, where Louis Vuitton and Supreme strive to specifically cater to them. LV and Supreme are incorporating this streetwear aesthetic within their advertisements for pop-up stores, using younger male models to specifically target this segment.
This was compounded by the synchronized launch, where their pop-up stores launched across 3 continents. They applied an consistent design approach to their pop-up retail spaces, with a high-spec standardized layout and merchandizing.
The risk paid off. Each store had a huge amount of success, all selling out of stock on the first day. Products from the collection are now being resold for thousands of dollars, where a hoodie is going for over $22,500 on eBay.
Key Takeaways: Make and Stay Ahead of Trends
This collaboration has been one of the biggest fashion news stories of 2017. They were able to fully satisfy society’s current demand for luxury streetwear through this collaboration, highlighting how important it is for brands to constantly reinvent themselves to ensure success. This is the first collaboration that LV has done to tap into this market, and from the success, we can expect to see more of this in the future.
To learn more about temporary retail and how to launch your own Pop-Up Store, download our free Ultimate Pop-Up Guide and make your ideas happen.