It’s been an exciting week for mainstream-meets-designer mashups, with several unexpected capsule collection announcements that pair high-end style with middle-of-the-road pricing. While some past pairings have raised a few eyebrows — remember Nike and Tiffany? — the industry knows that clever combinations can bring in new customers and raise the profiles of both brand and designer.
Here are four new collaborations that make strange sense.
Uniqlo and Clare Waight Keller
Former Givenchy artistic director Clare Waight Keller is launching a women’s collection with Uniqlo next month called Uniqlo: C, per the brand’s website.
The collection features elevated basics in fabrics such as gabardine twill, corduroy and cashmere, and the capsule will feature suiting separates, tops, skirts, sweaters, outerwear, dresses, footwear and accessories, including a reimagined version of Uniqlo’s round mini shoulder bag. Price points remain accessible, and range from about $30 for a ballcap to just under $150 for a wool-blend overcoat.
“When you’re working at a different price point, the way the fabric translates is very important to achieve the right silhouette, and so this was a critical part of the work I did at the beginning,” Waight Keller said in an interview on the Uniqlo website. “Really looking at what were going to be the most special fabrics and ones that would create the most successful and beautiful result for the price. And I have to say, I’ve been very impressed. Things like the cottons, and the nylons, are of an exceptional level.”
After leaving Givenchy in 2020 following a three-year stint at the creative helm, Waight Keller has largely laid low, although rumors surfaced late last year that she could be returning to Chloé, a brand she designed for from 2011 to 2017.
Banana Republic and Peter Do
A new Banana Republic capsule designed by Peter Do, the recently-appointed creative director at Helmut Lang, will be available in select BR stores and online in October, according to a release this week.
The BR x Peter Do capsule will draw inspiration from Banana Republic archives, and will feature what the release called “transformational and genderful ready-to-wear pieces and accessories” in neutral tones. Items include outerwear such as trenches, plus suiting separates, tops and pants. Prices have not yet been released, but will likely be on the upper end of Banana Republic’s typical range.
Do was previously at Derek Lam, and before that he worked in the ready-to-wear atelier at Céline. His first collection for Helmut Lang will be a spring-summer 2024 show opening New York Fashion Week in September.
Meanwhile, Banana Republic’s parent company Gap Inc. is about to welcome its new CEO, former Mattel exec Richard Dickson, who will step into the role at the end of August.
Dickies and Willy Chavarria
Heritage workwear brand Dickies and Willy Chavarria, the senior vice president of design at Calvin Klein, have collaborated on a nine-piece capsule which dropped Wednesday, according to a release sent to Fashion Dive.
The collection includes structured work shirts, oversized bomber jackets, wide-leg cargo pants and tailored shorts, all in black and beige. Willy Chavarria x Dickies is available now online through the e-commerce sites of both brands, as well as in-store at Bergdorf Goodman, and prices range from $210 to $250.
“I have had a long and personal relationship with Dickies - growing up wearing the brand and later being inspired by it,” Chavarria said in the release. “Few brands have been globally iconic and had such an important role in cultural narratives as Dickies. To me, the most elegant look will always be a clean, pressed pair of Dickies pants worn with a crisp white T-shirt.”
Chavarria’s work as an independent conceptual menswear designer has consistently brought fans and crowds to runway shows staged at unofficial locations such as Eagle, an old-school gay leather bar in New York’s Chelsea. The designer has previously worked at Ralph Lauren, American Eagle Outfitters, and Nick Graham, where he interned.
Dickies is no stranger to unexpected pairings. Last year, the brand dropped an unexpected and extravagantly expensive collaboration with Gucci Vault, and previously collaborations have included Opening Ceremony and Madewell.
Asus and A Bathing Ape
This one isn’t strictly fashion, but it’s worth a mention because the pairing portends more stylish collabs between designers and brands outside their comfort zone, such as Jeremy Scott’s work with Hyundai.
On Thursday, Asus released a line with A Bathing Ape featuring laptops and accessories co-branded with cult Japanese streetwear brand, which is often stylized as BAPE.
The limited-edition collection features a laptop and accessories including a carrying bag, mouse, a figurine carrying its own tiny laptop, plus a sticker set included in the bundle. Everything is stylized with A Bathing Ape camo print, and the device ships with a capsule-exclusive desktop wallpaper and live wallpaper options.
A Bathing Ape was founded in 1993 by streetwear legend Nigo, who is currently artistic director of the French luxury brand Kenzo, and one of the co-founders of Billionaire Boys Club. Nigo sold his stake in A Bathing Ape in 2011 and left the label completely in 2013.