Learning from culture: The most iconic collabs outside of streetwear

Alina Amin



across cultures

Balenciaga and Epic Games recently revealed their collaborative work, original Balenciaga in-game clothing for your Fortnite characters. Initiated by the agency Publicis Luxe, the fashion house opened its official store in the virtual world. Players can purchase some high-end looks for their virtual faves.

Both brands know about the hype surrounding their products and made use of their cultural relevance. The result is even more hype. Collaborating in this certain fashion isn’t a new invention. It’s what streetwear brands have been doing since their existence: Making use of their image as well as their standing in the industry and finding the right partner to profit off each other. While innovating the whole game.

It’s one of many principles taken from streetwear that works perfectly in other industries and cultures. Fortnite x Balenciaga isn’t the only example. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic collaborations that made the streetwear principle their own.

Balenciaga-drip in tomato town

So the first one on the list has to be Balenciaga and Fortnite. We already explained what makes this collab so streetwear-y.

Players can purchase numerous shirts, pants and accessories for their characters and also for their own. The french fashion house has launched the virtual clothes as a real capsule collection that offers some high-end fortnite merch – for high-end prices.

This is accompanied by the campaign in the form of 3D XXL animations shown on giant billboards in London, New York, Tokyo and Seoul. Similar to the clothing, those will be visible in the virtual world too.


Gucci & Balenciaga: hacking each other

So we might see a pattern here with Balenciaga. The brand also took part in the “hacking” with Gucci, that happened in April and June of this year. Both brands hacked each other, meaning that for the first collection, we got Gucci clothes in classic Balenciaga designs – Gucciaga.

A couple of months later we got the same, just that it was Balenciaga who hacked its fashion house colleague.

The collections went viral right away. With the rise of streetwear, collaborations between luxury and streetwear brands have become the new normal – think Louis Vuitton and Supreme, for example. But this is the first time that two high-fashion brands have joined forces.

The project, while celebrated by many, was also criticized for milking the hype that comes with collaborations and not actually being all that. Nonetheless it was a huge success – meaning that both brands really did understand how to successfully execute a collab. Recognize the hype and innovate yourself.

cracking the code

Jimmy Choo and Timberland gave the notorious boot the comeback they needed. In all glitter with well deserved bling. While some would argue that this collab is a little too much, it’s just in fashion for what Timberland-wearers want from the brand.

Jimmy Choo is the best partner for that with their ultra glamourous look that totally contradicts Timberland and gives us something totally new. We call it innovation.

In this case, both brands combine their differences to create something that was never there. And despite some naysayers believing that this tacky looking project didn’t take off, Lady Gaga, J Lo and all sorts of trendsetters wearing the Boots would tell you otherwise.

It’s also a great example for what a collaboration actually is. It’s about taking risks and sharing the art.

© Jimmy Choo

We did it first

When we talk about Fortnite and Balenciaga, we also need to talk about the predecessors of the high-fashion-in-game skins. Louis Vuitton and League of Legends. The high fashion brand got together with the online phenomena to create a virtual collection for the characters Qiyana and Senna.

They also dropped the fitting Ready-To-Wear line with real life LoL-outfits and other looks inspired by the world of the game. And they did take it really seriously: They even created a new exclusive monogram, the “Louis Vuitton x League of Legends”-canvas. They’re classic monogram with white and blue stripes.

What makes this collab so special is the energy they put into this, creating actual new designs and really diving deep into the world of League of Legend. It’s a textbook project, where both parties deliver authentic input and expand the respected cultures.


This is how you do it

All of these collaborations turned out to be widely successful and influential. They all made use of principles that are native to streetwear: Creating a new thing out of two brands, talents and ideas. And thus creating hype.