If you heard episode 96 (“Fashion with a Tech IQ”) of Fashion Is Your Business with David Tull of JackThreads, you have a good idea how the company does business. Starting off as a flash sale site for menswear, the company developed its own private label but continues to partner with other brands which they feel represents their customer: a JackThreads kind of guy. David makes the good point that there are few guys today that exclusively shop from one brand. Customers of all type have always paired brands together, but more and more brands are collaborating from the start. In this day and age, no one company is doing things alone–collaboration is key.
Major brands partnering with each other dominate the idea of current collaborations in the industry. If brands are not collaborating with major designers, they are partnering with celebrities or tech companies. These high profile partnerships can overshadow the idea that new and developing brands can benefit from partnerships with larger brands or those in the same stage of development. With bigger brands, the collaboration tends to be about bringing attention to both brands, smaller brands should collaborate because it makes sense.
4 Benefits (and Great Examples) of Brand Collaboration
There are some solid reasons for brands to work together with many examples of great collaborations that have come out of them. Below are four reasons why brands might want to collaborate with each other with examples of each type of partnership.
Expanding brand exposure: Honda & JackThreads
What if I told you that Honda, JackThreads and Thrillist all worked together to design and create a shoe? The latter two brands in that list make sense, but why would Honda want to work on a shoe? It makes more sense when you learn that Honda HT3 is a driving shoe, so their connection is a little less out-there. A car brand and a fashion brand saw where the two met–driving shoes–and created a great product at that intersection.
However, the collaboration goes beyond selling the one product, it also allows for a cross-pollination of customer bases. Honda customers are exposed to brand that sells clothes as stylish as their Honda. JackThread customers now think of the Honda brand as part of the lifestyle that JackThreads has cultivated. Both brands are showing their customers that they are thinking of their lives beyond just the products they regularly sell.
Expanding product offerings: Air Tailor & Million Dollar Collar
A good example of using a partnership to expand product offerings of this is Air Tailor, an on demand tailoring service, who teamed up with Million Dollar Collar, a company that patented a placket stay that helps keep your collar from crumbling. Both companies are relatively new. After three years, as SkinnyFatTies, the service expanded its tailoring services to more clothing items beyond ties in 2015 and Million Dollar Collar, founded in 2013, started going into business last year.
Thanks to their partnership, Air Tailor will now install the stay in your shirt for only $13 and everyone involved—including the customer—benefits. This partnership makes perfect sense for both companies: the stays need to be installed and tailors are the best people to do it.
Access to new technology: Kate Spade & EverPurse
Another good reason to collaborate is because you can’t reach the cutting edge alone. If you’re a big brand, you have to keep a lot of plates spinning in order to run a successful brand. This doesn’t always leave much time or freedom to experiment and innovate. Start-ups, which tend to be smaller, do have this time and freedom–it might even be their mission, but don’t have the funding. The two can help each other out with each of their problems.
One great example of this is the Kate Spade and EverPurse collaboration. EverPurse is one of a few start-ups that has developed a way for women to charge their phone and other devices in their purse without it looking like they’re lugging around a huge battery. It had the tech that Kate Spade, already well-known for their aesthetic, was looking for. In an age when a lot of wearable technology is still very conspicuous, EverPurse’s tech was easily and seamlessly implemented into existing Kate Spade designs.
In this collaboration, everyone benefits. The customer gets a great product, EverPurse gets an increased profile after working with a major brand and Kate Spade shows that they are always on the look out for innovative ways to provide for their customers.
Developing new business models: Thrillist & JackThreads
JackThreads’ whole business model is based off of collaboration, even as the company grew and evolved. The business moved from presenting deals to customers to developing a loyal audience that trust their curation of partnerships. Brands like Fred Perry, Ben Sherman, Levi’s, Puma, Vans, Herschel and others–which range from well-known to lesser-known/niche companies–all give a good idea of the look and life of a JackThreads shopper and subscriber.
Jack Threads’ collaborations go beyond the fashion industry. There’s the previous example above where they worked with Honda, but collaborations can go beyond products and other tangible items: see Thrillist. For a while, Thrillist was just a New York City newsletter that was competing with Time Out New York. Then it partnered with JackThreads and both companies’ business model changed. The two complemented each other well: Thrillist would be the place to hear about the latest things and trends and JackThreads would be the place to buy it. The content from Thrillist, who already had a good idea of what it’s audience wanted, provided context to audiences for what JackThreads was selling. It created something of a closed cycle of being informed about the latest trends and then buying them.
Of course, there’s us: Open Source Fashion. The entire idea behind what we do is that we have a good idea of who and how people and brands should connect. No company in the fashion tech space is an island to itself and we recognize that. Already in touch with key people in the industry, we can help your company grow as the industry expands.
Artist Credit: James Bullough