As designer collaborations become increasingly commonplace, they are arguably losing their appeal due to their abundance in the market. Certainly, some are very exciting and well-designed, but the sheer volume and availability of them makes the whole practice all a bit drab. High fashion consumers long for exclusivity, and Cartier’s director of image, style and heritage, Pierre Rainero, who shot down the idea of a Cartier collaboration, knows this quite well. He told Fashionista: “We always work with our own designers. And for us, design is really our statement, so we see no point in working with external designers.”
In terms of the business of fashion, this anti-collaboration tactic simply won’t work for all brands. Some brands, especially given the economic climate, can really benefit from heightened visibility in the market and need to reach different types of consumers, which the designer-collaboration is ideal at accomplishing. However, I think this focus-on-the-craftsmanship tactic is very smart for established luxury houses like Cartier, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, who have spent a decades or more developing a company culture that is known for quality. It is very interesting to see how different designs houses are developing given the bleak economy.