The use of intra-industrial co-branding within fashion has increased dramatically over the last decades, and during the last years a particular phenomenon on this direction is the co-branding between avant-garde fashion companies and mass-market fashion and even sport brands.

H&M  x  Margiela, Adidas by Stella McCartney and Y-3 ar only few example of co-branding operations between avant-garde fashion designer brands and mass-market fashion companies.


(Maison Martin Margiela x H&M  Advertising Campaign)

This  type  of  collaborations  are  often  mainly  marketed  by  the  mass fashion/ sport brand,  while  the  avant-garde  designer  has  a  role  of  a  design  licensor.  The collaboration  collections  further  vary  in  size,  some  avant-garde  designers create  full  size  collections,  like  Comme  des  Garçons  for  H&M,  while  other collaborate  on  a  limited  part  of  the  assortment,  such  as  Rick  Owens  designing shoes  for  Adidas.  The  design  approach  and  expression  of  the  collaboration collections are  also  diverse;  contrasting examples  are  Martin  Margiela  who  in  his collaboration with H&M created re-editions of old collections and Rick Owens who  in  his  most  recent  collaboration  with  Adidas  created  a  progressive  design very  much  in  line  with  his  current  collections.



The co-branding operation include in its nature opportunities and threats for both the sides. The mass-market fashion /sport brand generally increase its perception of fashionability and its design rising its brand image. In the case of mass-market sport brands they are also able to increase their lifestyle segment and their market share due to the trend for which (especially in the women segment) also in sport there is no more performance without style. From the other side, the avant-garde brand gain financial revenues through direct sales or licensee, increase his awareness, increase the market share but on the opposite expose itself to the risk of affecting its brand image and on long term also its brand identity.

In order to avoid these threats and increase the profitability of the operation, the focus has to be pointed on the innate characteristic of the brands. Both brands have to be coherent in brand image, values, communication archetypes and have a compatible positioning.




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