2023 has been a record-breaking year for brand collaborations, but these coming out in time for Christmas have an extra edge.
On a weekly basis, we’ve witnessed capsules and collections created with celebrities, athletes, designers, and other brands, often vastly different in their core businesses and products.
Brands from all sectors have discovered the powerful marketing advantages of product drops and collaborations, regularly using them to make headlines, generate excitement, and create hype in an already saturated market. Collab drops have sought to amaze in every way, including the unconventional Balenciaga x Crocs collaboration featuring high-heeled Clogs.
However, there is “still hope.” Beyond the hybrid and somewhat shocking products from some collaborations, recent brand unions have shown a certain industry study, thoughtful collaboration between parties, starting from the product and the chosen marketing approach.
These capsules have temporarily deviated from the already established path, steering streetwear away from the trends it has been following for years. Some designers are attempting to bring streetwear back to common sense, momentarily overlooking questionable trends, such as Justin Bieber’s milk donuts or Balenciaga’s towel skirt (not in collaboration with Ikea, but it feels like it).
We have decided to get serious and highlight the top 5 streetwear collaborations of late 2023. The selection of these capsules considered the harmony with which the two brands dialogued, the inclination towards balance in individual aesthetic languages, and the delivery of a well-thought-out product, whose impact on streetwear fashion is positive (we won’t discuss taste).
Take a look at the 5 end-of-year 2023 collaborations that are elevating streetwear fashion and let us know what you think.
Porter & Yoshida and Valentino Garavani.
The fashion world is well aware of the scarcity of durable nylon bags that can match the Made in Japan quality of Porter-Yoshida & Co. Pier Paolo Piccoli, Valentino’s creative director, is also aware of this. Instead of independently creating nylon versions of his beloved silhouettes, he collaborated with the Japanese outdoor bag expert to bring to life a series of creations that blend style, elegance, and practicality.
Unveiled for the first time on the Valentino SS2024 men’s runway, the revamped Locò bag, an icon of Italian fashion, appeared in various color shades, using Porter’s distinctive material. It replaced the classic long metal chains with soft nylon straps; however, the characteristic metal hardware retains its place of honor on the bag flap, accompanied by Porter’s signature.
Valentino Garavani’s Toile Iconographe pattern surprisingly adorns a wide range of Porter products, including briefcases, tote bags, and pouches. The result is a collection that combines Italian know-how with Japanese design, creating unique accessories that best represent the meeting of two distinct worlds. For this reason, it rightfully enters this mini-ranking. Meanwhile, mark your calendars for the release date: December 15.
Palace and UGG.
The young creatives at Palace in London are cooking up something extraordinary for this holiday season, enthusiastically announcing their upcoming collaboration with the renowned footwear brand UGG, known for its comfortable and cool boots. The synergy between UGG and Palace materialized earlier in the year, giving rise to a fresh reinterpretation of the classic Short Boot.
The second chapter of this collaboration, unusual but effective, features the Tasman Slipper, characterized by suede uppers in brown and green tones. A patchwork style surprisingly combines comfort and bold decorations, with an irresistible touch of animated characters, symbols, and distinctive writings typical of Palace’s relaxed style. Emblems, including devils, psychedelic sunrises, and bomb-dropping ducks, consistently permeate all seasonal Palace collections.
The shoe circles boast a two-tone embroidery that reveals UGG’s iconic interiors, seamlessly integrated with same-colored soles. In addition to footwear, the collection includes coordinated gloves and a white sheepskin mat, with Palace’s unmistakable “P” initial. An ensemble that not only embraces functionality and style but stands out as an elegant fashion statement, making this collaboration an excellent example of merging different aesthetics.
Comme des Garçons and Freitag
Comme des Garçons has collaborated with the Swiss eco-friendly bag brand FREITAG to create a new joint collection called “Holidays with FREITAG.”
Founded in 1993 by brothers Markus Freitag and Daniel Freitag, FREITAG has supported the concept of eco-compatibility and recycling for 30 years. All their products are handmade with recycled materials such as waterproof canvas, discarded seatbelts, and car tires, highly durable and considered one of the classic masterpieces of Swiss design. Comme des Garçons‘ creative director Rei Kawakubo has long recognized FREITAG‘s values and has been using the brand’s bags for over 20 years, hence the collaboration.
The co-branded bags are all produced in Japan and are available in five options: slouchy backpacks, large and small messenger bags, tote bags, and shopping bags. Simultaneously, in selected stores, a flash mob directed by Rei Kawakubo will take place, featuring special installations allowing visitors to experience FREITAG‘s unique story. Study collaborations and future icons, do we have any?
Joe Freshgood and New Balance
After joining forces with New Balance for a limited edition 650 “Stuntman” model in September, Joe Freshgoods has reunited with the Boston brand for his next collection of 990v4. This time, the Chicago designer has redesigned the silhouette in three new color variations, inspired by the 1998 American crime drama by Hype Williams, Belly.
Diverging from the usual vibrant tones of the designer, these models blend different textures such as mesh, suede, and premium leather. The “JFG” logo appears on the lateral heel instead of the typical 990 iconography, while the phrases “1998” and “Made in the U.S.A.” appear on the back of the silhouette.
An official release date has not been announced for Joe Freshgoods’ New Balance 990v4 collection, although it is expected to happen by the end of the year. Although not entirely new, this collaboration rightfully enters this ranking for the style exercise the two parties have contributed to creating together, as seen with all the other product drops between the two brands.
Elegance, design study, and a perfect exemplification of the product demanded by the target audience.
The campaign displays an image from the cover of “XXL” magazine from June 1999 featuring Jay Z, DMX, and Ja Rule: Hat’s off!
Fear of God Athletics and adidas
Almost three years after the collaboration announcement at the end of 2020, Jerry Lorenzo, the founder of Fear of God, has finally revealed what he calls “the third pillar” of Fear of God, alongside the brand’s famous collections and the Essentials sub-label that has taken the fashion world by storm.
The Fear of God Athletics campaign made its debut on November 28 with a remarkable runway show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles earlier this year. During the event, Pusha T wore FOG Athletics garments while rapping. Jerry Lorenzo provided glimpses of the FOG Athletics vision in interviews and teasers on social media, unveiling the first collaborative product through a low-profile pop-up in Shanghai shortly after the initial announcement.
Stylized images suggestively showcase Fear of God glasses, jerseys, and hoodies in sepia tones. Models,
dressed in earth-toned athleisure, casually walk in ankle-deep water, their faces obscured by visor caps, capes engulfing their torsos, and knitted hats. Carrying shapeless leather backpacks and shoulder bags, they exude the air of nomads exploring a lunar ground.
If all of this seems a bit YEEZY-esque, it’s not a mistake. Kanye West has undoubtedly influenced Lorenzo, who worked for a period as an internal stylist for Ye and a de facto tastemaker. The FOG runway show was one of the first events to draw Kanye out of hiding in early 2023.
Fear of God, however, is also a distinct entity, not a mere offshoot of someone else’s ideas. Lorenzo‘s label has finely tuned its production over the past decade, transitioning from ripped shirts and skinny jeans to sharp lines and luxury tailoring.
FOG Athletics represents a complete collection of luxury prêt-à-porter, both opulent and utilitarian. While it may be inevitable to compare it to YEEZY SEASON‘s first collection in 2015, produced by Ye and adidas, the brand’s sophisticated forms require a closer analysis.
Jerry Lorenzo stated when confirming the partnership with Fear of God Athletics in December 2020:
“It’s an unprecedented role by its nature and the nuanced attribution that challenges all traditional titles and definitions. It’s a bold move where shared vision and belief are at the center of integrating two brands that shape sports and culture, with the goal of truly multiplying our blended forces to revolutionize the performance basketball industry forever.”