This year marked a record number of fashion collaborations among heritage fashion houses and some of today’s biggest celebrities. While each was unique, they collectively made a big impact in the fashion world and resonated with fans for their high-fashion factor.
The year saw two major high-fashion mashups that the industry had never seen before. First, the long-awaited Hacker Project between Gucci and Balenciaga debuted during the spring 2022 season, where creative directors Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia, respectively, created their own logo-bearing takes on each designer brand’s signature motifs. The collaboration was then followed up by a similar creative swap between Versace and Fendi, where Donatella Versace and Kim Jones created lines for each other’s brands during the pre-fall 2022 season.
Celebrity partnerships also remained as popular as ever in 2021. Crocs had a major year of celebrity partnerships, teaming with Justin Bieber, Diplo and Bad Bunny for a range of colorful clogs and Lil Nas X teamed with fashion label MSCHF on a controversial sneaker collaboration, called the “Satan Show.”
Kim Kardashian West also celebrated a major milestone in 2021 with her Skims shapewear brand, embarking on the brand’s first collaboration with Fendi.
Here, WWD looks at the 11 biggest fashion collaborations of 2021. Read on for more.
Simone Rocha x H&M
H&M released its latest designer collaboration in March, this time collaborating with Irish fashion designer Simone Rocha. The collection included women’s, men’s and children’s options and took inspiration from the history and fashion of Ireland and Hong Kong, which represent Rocha’s dual heritage.
The collection included a variety of feminine dresses with lace and tulle details in floral and tartan prints, as well as pieces embellished with pearls, which gave a nod to Rocha’s recent spring 2021 ready-to-wear collection.
The collaboration was a hit with consumers, particularly in China where an unprecedented level of online traffic crashed H&M’s server, which caused outages on the retailer’s website, app and WeChat Mini-program on social media.
Lil Nas X and MSCHF
Fashion label MSCHF and rapper Lil Nas X embarked on arguably the most controversial collaboration of the year in March when the two released their “Satan Shoe,” which was a reimagined version of the Nike Air Max 97 style designed to feature biblical imagery and a drop of human blood in the sneaker’s sole air bubble.
The style received mixed social media reactions upon release, with some praising the style while others took offense by the biblical references and human blood. Nike, while not being involved in the collaboration, received backlash for the style and responded by filing a lawsuit against the fashion label for trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, common law trademark infringement and unfair competition over the sneaker.
A few weeks after the lawsuit was filed, Nike revealed that it came to a settlement agreement with MSCHF where the fashion label would buy back any “Satan Shoe” for the original retail price to remove the style from circulation.
Gucci and Balenciaga’s Hacker Project
Gucci and Balenciaga embarked on one of the biggest collaborations in the high-fashion world with their Hacker Project, which debuted during the spring 2022 season.
The first iteration was the Gucci series where cross-branded Gucci merchandise featured the Balenciaga signature. The Balenciaga series was then released, which combined Gucci motifs and its signature colorway with Balenciaga’s structures and styling.
The Hacker Project was introduced to the public at 74 pop-up stores across the globe this fall in locations including London, Paris, Geneva, New York, Houston, Atlanta, Tokyo and Seoul.
Heron Preston for Calvin Klein
Fashion designer Heron Preston teamed with Calvin Klein for a collection of essentials this April, which consisted of denim, underwear, T-shirts, hoodies and shorts. The collection is gender-neutral and sustainability sourced. The collaboration is part of Preston’s role as creative consultant at Calvin Klein. He was tapped earlier this year to “reawaken” the brand.
Preston and Calvin Klein tapped Kaia Gerber, Ashley Graham, Jordan Alexander, Lil Uzi, Renell Medrano, Stevie Williams, Sabrina Fuentes and Nas for the collection’s campaign.
The collection included oversize silhouettes and a color palette that consisted of pale yellow, brown, light gray and Preston’s signature orange. Pieces included straight-legged joggers, bralettes, long-sleeved crop tops and leggings.
Crocs continued its streak of successful collaborations this year with several new projects that resonated with fans, including collections with musicians like Justin Bieber, Diplo and Bad Bunny, as well as a high-fashion collaboration with Balenciaga.
The footwear brand started off the year with its second collaboration with Bieber and his Drew House fashion label in March. The collaboration offered a lilac-colored clog style that came with a pair of Drew House branded white gym socks. Crocs then teamed with Diplo in June, releasing psychedelic-themed clogs designed in a paint splatter pattern. The brand later worked with Bad Bunny in September for a pair of glow-in-the-dark white clogs.
Crocs embarked on its latest high-fashion collaboration this year with Balenciaga, teaming on their second collection together. The footwear brand worked with designer Demna Gvasalia on several styles that debuted in Balenciaga’s spring 2022 ready-to-wear show, including a high-heeled Crocs clog, platform pool slides and a rain boot style in green, gray and black.
Nike x Louis Vuitton
One of his last projects during his pivotal tenure at Louis Vuitton, late fashion designer Virgil Abloh teamed with Nike for one of the biggest sneaker collaborations of the year, revealed during the Louis Vuitton spring 2022 men’s collection.
The collaboration offered new versions of Nike’s iconic Air Force 1 trainers in 21 colorways that blended design elements from both brands, such as the Louis Vuitton logo and monogram and Nike’s signature swoosh. Styles also featured the word “Air” in quotation marks, a signature of Abloh’s Off-White brand, which also previously collaborated with Nike.
Kanye West and Gap revealed the first item from their Yeezy Gap collaboration, a round jacket in a recycled nylon for $200 that came in blue, black and red, this June.
West and his Yeezy fashion label struck a deal with Gap in June 2020 for a new clothing collection released under the Yeezy Gap name. The line’s strategy is to offer modern, elevated basics at accessible price points. When news of the deal was released, Gap’s stock increased nearly 19 percent to $12.07 in a day.
Yeezy Gap released its second product in September, this time a 100 percent cotton double layer hoodie.
Telfar x Liberian Olympic Team
Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens partnered with the Liberian Olympic team for the Tokyo Summer Olympics to create their official uniform. Clemens created the first sketches for the collection while in Liberia, taking inspiration from the streets around him. The fashion designer was also the Liberian team’s official sponsor, giving them their first sponsorship deal since 2000.
Clemens later released the collection to the public on the brand’s website. The collection consisted of 70 genderless pieces, such as gown-length jerseys, deconstructed tracksuits, sarong bottoms and spliced tops in a navy, red, sand and white color palette.
In a milestone moment, Donatella Versace and Kim Jones teamed for a collaboration that fused both Versace and Fendi’s brand ethos. The designers did a full creative swap, with Jones creating a line for Versace and Versace creating a line for Fendi for the pre-fall 2022 season.
Jones’ collection featured all of Versace’s signatures, such as safety pins, the iconic Baroque print and sheared furs. Versace brought her signature sexiness to Fendi, presenting minidresses, ‘70s denim pantsuits and shimmery gowns.
The two collections were presented on a star-studded cast of models during a joint fashion show. Models included Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Gigi Hadid, Amber Valletta and many others.
Fendi x Skims
Kim Kardashian West embarked on her first major fashion collaboration for her Skims shapewear brand in November, teaming with Fendi and its artistic director of women’s collections, Kim Jones.
The collaboration blended both brands’ ethos for a line of shapewear, lingerie, dresses and other pieces in a color palette of neutral tones, pink and black. The collection was codesigned by the two figures and was inspired by a 1979 Fendi collection designed by the late Karl Lagerfeld. The pieces also featured a hybrid Fendi x Skims logo and ranged in price from $100 to $4,200.
Much of the collection initially sold out within 24 hours of its drop, reportedly garnering $1 million in profits within the first few minutes of the launch. The brands followed up the successful collaboration with a second drop released in December, which featured similar shapewear and apparel pieces seen in the first collection.
Supreme and Tiffany & Co.
Streetwear brand Supreme and fine jeweler Tiffany & Co. joined forces in November with their first collaboration. The collection is centered on the Return to Tiffany line, which includes the iconic Tiffany & Co. heart-shaped charm or tag.
All pieces in the collection are made with the jeweler’s sterling silver and includes styles like a key-shaped pocket knife, heart-shaped stud earrings and a pearl necklace with a silver tag.
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