By Marco Passoni
Collaboration has been a topic of conversation for a few years now, but I am predicting that it will be a real buzzword throughout 2024 – and it needs to be if we are to take travel retail to the heights it should reach in the months and years ahead.
In the wider luxury and fashion markets, much creativity has become a collaborative process between brands and their consumers. The combination of brands collaborating with gaming platforms, which allow their users to shape their own world, and the work of influencers, has blurred the traditional lines between consumer and creator.
Such a collaborative creative process is, of course, easier in a digital realm, where restrictions on time, price and materials do not exist. But, in my opinion, the travel retail sector has a unique opportunity to generate new and exciting collaborative creations, not just with shoppers but exclusively for them. In a recent poll I ran of stakeholders in the travel retail sector on LinkedIn, almost half – 42% – said they thought “bespoke experiences” are the defining feature of this market. If that is the case, why are we not seeing more brands working together to create them?
The travel retail sector is unique in many ways. One of them is that there are brands and concepts which sit side-by-side in this market which will not, or cannot, be found together in any other situation. So why not combine them?
There are examples of this being done to great effect – and here are some I believe travel retail should be learning from.
Givenchy X Undercover
This striking collaboration between LVMH’s Givenchy brand and Jun Takahashi, the founder of J Undercover, generated huge buzz when it was announced as it brings together two contrasting styles in French luxury and Japanese streetwear. But the real value is that the collection will only be sold at Givenchy’s Ginza boutique, focusing global brand excitement onto a single location – a great opportunity for travel retail.
Nike X Feng Chen Wang
This upcoming collaboration puts its focus on creating and sharing, instead of selling. The products made by the sportswear giant and the fashion designer include dresses crafted from outerwear and, of course, a limited edition set of Air Force 1s. But these will not be sold. They will be showcased in exhibition projects. Similar ideas would be a great way to make exciting use of spaces in airports by leveraging brand identities and experiences and delivering them in a new and unique way.
Moncler X Roc Nation
This is the definition of co-collaboration. The evolution of Moncler’s amazing Genius concept to be a collaborative-creation platform was first seen with an immersive show at LFW last year. Now the brand’s new creations with Roc Nation’s Jay-Z are a perfect example of the brand combining its iconic products with collaborators who bring their own, very different, styles. Allowing strong brand identities to work together will always create something special.
Fendi X Heytea
This creation from last year is an excellent example of making the most of F&B. Collaborative concepts including food and drink brands are on the rise and I cannot think of a type of collaboration better suited to travel retail. The limited edition cup and co-branded drink made a mark on social media and the shock announcement of the collaboration on social media generated great online buzz.
Tiffany X Nike
This is an older collab, from almost a year ago, but it created such buzz it is a great example of the excitement generate by putting together concepts people would not have thought of. Just the image of the Tiffany X Nike shoe did incredible brand-building with its online reaction. Also, think about the possibilities for an airport sneaker drop – unexpected concepts and a focused and limited run, it could be incredible.
I know some of these are big examples, but for me, travel retail should be thinking big and leveraging its unique position to deliver something consumers truly special for consumers. This sector should be looking to be ahead of the curve and defining the trends by bringing together otherwise unseen pairings and using them to craft striking spaces and experiences.
From the Dolce & Gabbana and Ounass Cloud 22 takeover in Dubai, to the Gentle Monster jelly collection pop-up in Seoul and Beijing and the Maison Margiela First Class Travel space in Shanghai, there have been many more excellent examples of how combining brands and concepts can create incredible moments in the luxury sector. Maybe it is time that travel retail stakeholders started taking inspiration on how to create fresh, striking concepts for our sector too.