The 20 Best Fashion Collaborations of 2017, Ranked
Not all collaborations are created equal. There are business-driven pairings, friends teaming up, and disruptors finding strange to ways to expand their reach. The 20 best collaborations of 2017, by our measure, are in a category of their own. From introducing a subversive wit and joy into accessories and home goods to questioning what the future of art and fashion can look like, these co-branded projects buck tradition and challenge the participating brand, artist, or designer to try something new. In a full-to-bursting market, that’s not only what it takes to stand out, but also what fashion needs to stay relevant in an increasingly unstable world.
20. Alexander Wang x Judith Leiber
How to carry a roll of cash in 2017? Inside the cash roll minaudière Alexander Wang made with Judith Leiber, of course. Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj have all been spotted with the sold-out Swarovski crystal–studded clutch. It’s one way to get rich—or at, least look rich—quick.
19. Dolce & Gabbana x Smeg
As we become more reliant on Instagram as our main means of communicating—and image-making—it’s not just our clothes and accessories that count. Now, even home appliances are narrative opportunities. In the kitchen, Dolce & Gabbana’s Smeg collaboration projects health, wealth, and vibrant joie de vivre—all the better for our social snaps.
18. Victoria Beckham x Target
Victoria Beckham’s best calling card is her own understatedly chic style, and she brought that to Target for her first mass-market collaboration. There were slim suits, printed sundresses, and even children’s clothing, proving that you don’t need to be an international style star to look like one.
17. Manolo Blahnik
This might have been the year of the ugly shoe, but you’d never know it looking at Manolo Blahnik’s string of successful collaborations. The shoe guru closed out his multi-season Rihanna collaboration with some insanely glittery sandals featuring marijuana leaves. Then came a partnership with Spanish espadrille brand Castañer that produced some organically chic summer sandals and pumps. More recently, Blahnik teamed up with on-the-rise New York brand Lorod on a selection of earth-toned slingbacks and ankle boots. Altogether, Blahnik’s very good 2017 proves that when it comes to footwear, he’s still the best man for the job. Oh, and he also got the documentary treatment this year; Manolo: The Boy Who Made Shoes for Lizards gave fans insight into Blahnik’s life behind the drawing board.
16. Coach x Keith Haring
In the 27 years since his untimely death, Keith Haring’s influence has only risen. Witness the collaboration Coach executive creative director Stuart Vevers launched on his Spring 2018 runway, introducing a young generation to not just Haring’s art, but also his activism. Coach’s embrace of the artist, who was closely linked with the fight against AIDS, says a lot about the company’s values. It also birthed a bright spot—quite literally—in a year overwhelmed by bad news. How can you look at the Coach x Keith Haring glitter baby doll dress and not smile?
15. Erdem x H&M
H&M’s annual collaborations have become unparalleled extravaganzas. This year’s partnership wasn’t exactly smaller—Baz Luhrmann directed the campaign video!—but it had a decidedly more intimate feel. That paid off. The Erdem x H&M collection provided essentials by the armful, from pretty work-appropriate dresses to a great check suit to, rather out of the ordinary for Erdem Moralioglu, a hoodie.
14. Museum Merch
Just when you thought merch was over, you got pulled right back in. But this year, the merch-makers weren’t hyped-up musicians; they were two of New York’s most iconic museums. Uptown, the Metropolitan Museum of Art teamed with Comme des Garçons on a series of tees that celebrated the Costume Institute’s “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons” exhibition. Slightly less uptown, the Museum of Modern Art marked its “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” exhibition with a series of collaborations. New Era made New York Yankees x MoMA caps, Ralph Lauren decorated polo shirts with the MoMA logo, and Maurizio Cattelan imagined a soccer scarf with MoMA scrawled across the center. The pièces de résistance, however, were Champion’s MoMA logo hoodies (yes, the hoodie had a good year, too).
13. Adidas x Pharrell
Pharrell Williams is the king of collaborations—and not just in fashion. Whether he’s producing a song or designing a sneaker, the musical multi-hyphenate gives each project 110 percent. That was nowhere more evident than with his Adidas collaboration for the US Open. Williams was personally responsible for the Open’s most memorable outfits—Sascha Zverev in that Björn Borg shirt!—but the line extended beyond performancewear into lifestyle items and also financed new tennis courts in low-income areas. When Williams is in charge, everyone is happy.
12. Colette x Everyone
Colette is closing out its 20-year run with a bang. The Parisian concept shop has spent the better part of 2017 collaborating with brands like Balenciaga, Sacai, Thom Browne, and Saint Laurent, inviting each to take over the first floor of the store and create special limited-edition merch with which to stock it. For Balenciaga, that meant logo mugs and a bicycle. For Saint Laurent, the takeover included a branded Vespa and some fun fetish toys. Our favorite iteration of the project was the most unexpected: Colette teamed with the beloved French PR Lucien Pagès on a series of insider-y items like Vanessa Seward’s “Talk to My PR” tee.
If musicians were the cool kids in fashion in 2016, 2017 proved that athletes are where it’s at. Over the past 12 months, nearly every major international sport has created a fashion partnership. The NBA continued its work with The Elder Statesman, Major League Baseball teamed up with Gucci, the NFL enlisted FIT students to design merchandise graphics, and Paris Saint-Germain let French designer Christelle Kocher rework its logo on her street-savvy Koché designs. Watch this space for fashionable Winter Olympics collaborations in early 2018.
10. Louis Vuitton x Jeff Koons
The thing about Louis Vuitton’s Jeff Koons bags is that you can spot them from a mile away. Detractors may have complained that the designs were too obvious, but by our measure, a collaboration that unites one of fashion’s most iconic brands with one of the 21st century’s most influential artists and masters of painting from the past 500 years is a feat to be celebrated.
9. Vaquera x The Handmaid’s Tale
Though in the end no pieces from Vaquera’s collaboration with the Hulu hit The Handmaid’s Tale were actually produced, this collaboration remains one of the most interesting of 2017. Mixing television, performance art, media, and fashion design, the partnership birthed an arresting fashion show and got the entire fashion community talking. Let’s hope that as season two arrives on Hulu in 2018, so does some actually shoppable Vaquera merch. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum!”
8. Gosha Rubchinskiy x Burberry
Leave it to Russia’s foremost fashion disruptor to breathe new life into one of England’s most historic houses. After years of diversifying well beyond its signature check, Burberry allowed Gosha Rubchinskiy to put his subversive spin on the pattern at the designer’s Fall 2017 menswear show. After Rubchinskiy’s game-changing collection, Rita Ora was seen in the collaborative items and Burberry’s own see-now-buy-now Fall 2017 collection included more of its heritage plaid. Fast-forward to the end of the year, and Rihanna was spotted in head-to-toe Burberry plaid, which got us thinking: Is Rubchinskiy destined for the Burberry creative director role now that Christopher Bailey is leaving?
7. Adam Selman x Le Specs
Adam Selman’s precariously catty Lolita sunglasses for Le Specs were the must-have shades of 2017. In a bevy of retro colors, the frames were everywhere: on all the Instagram It girls, worn by A-list actresses, and knocked off by countless copycat brands. The exaggerated cat-eye shape also spawned the micro-sunglasses trend of the summer and helped revitalize the Le Specs business. By every measure, this collaboration was a win, which is why Le Specs has continued it into 2018.
6. JW Anderson x Uniqlo
Speaking of omnipresent items, it was hard to move around New York, London, Milan, and Paris without running into someone—or 10 people—wearing JW Anderson for Uniqlo. The blue plaid puffer was far and away one of this season’s most purchased pieces but hardly the only item from the collaboration to really take off. The cropped tie-wrist sweaters, men’s cargo pants, and reversible plaid trenches have been spotted the world over, proving that when Anderson is at the helm of a project, nothing can stop shoppers, even fabrications that don’t really live up to his main line standard.
5. Prabal Gurung x Lane Bryant
According to a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology, and Education, the average American woman wears a size 16. That means that most American women are excluded from the high-fashion system, which typically sizes up to 12 or 14 at the largest. Prabal Gurung’s partnership with Lane Bryant seeks to upend the rampant sizeism in fashion, offering runway-approved styles in bigger sizes and at more affordable price points. Here’s hoping more designers follow Gurung’s lead in 2018.
Did you ever think Crocs would become one of the buzziest brands in fashion? Most people didn’t—and most people were so, so wrong. With collaborations with Christopher Kane (fur-lined and Swarovski-studded) and Balenciaga (platformed and pinned) on the runways this year, there’s never been a better time to get into ugly-pretty shoes. At the beginning of 2017, there were reports that Crocs was hurting, but that seems to have been resolved by its strangely alluring fashion partnerships. Further proof that a willingness to get weird can be good for buzz and for business.
3. Nike x Off-White
Virgil Abloh is the patron saint of the self-made social media set, and his Nike collaboration epitomizes our modern obsessions with making it big and making it our own. A lifelong Nike obsessive, Abloh reveled in putting his spin on 10 of Nike’s most iconic sneaker silhouettes, from the Dunk to the AF-1, remaking each with the care and specificity of a well-informed fan. Other fans took note, making these extremely limited-edition shoes the most coveted sneakers of the year. It helped, of course, that Abloh generously gifted the kicks to all his famous friends, turning them into a social media sensation in their own right.
2. Calvin Klein x the Andy Warhol Foundation
In a year overwhelmed by artist collaborations, one stood out for the breadth and depth of its commitment. Beginning with the brand’s Spring 2018 collection, Calvin Klein was granted unprecedented access to Andy Warhol’s archive through 2020, meaning Raf Simons and co. have carte blanche (or something pretty close to that) to interpret and utilize Warhol’s most iconic art across a wide variety of products and installations.
1. Louis Vuitton x Supreme
In 2000, Louis Vuitton sued Supreme for knocking off its logo. By doing so, Louis Vuitton made Supreme’s knockoff box logo tees one of its most coveted items and set into motion what would be the most monumental collaboration of 2017. The two brands, once feuding, became friends, and created everything from a skateboard trunk to a fanny pack together, every piece blending the logos, colors, signatures, and craftsmanship each brand is famous for. The collaboration was so hotly anticipated that it was on sale for only a single day in a handful of cities around the world, after which the rest of Louis Vuitton’s planned pop-ups were canceled. As such, only the most dedicated shoppers and friends of each label, like Kate Moss and Rihanna, managed to make out with any of the items at all, further prompting a cycle of knockoffs and remakes. And so the wheels of inspiration, imitation, and litigation spin forward into 2018