Fashion’s latest chapter of high-low collaborations is all about luxury brands embracing youth culture.
If Disney films were a significant part of your childhood experience, then you’ve probably taken note of all the recent collaborations in the fashion and beauty realms as of late.
Before you think that Disney is reserved for the under-12 crowd, consider the following: Donald Duck made several appearances at Alessandro Michele’s most recent menswear show for Gucci, and the fine-jewelry pieces from Stephen Dweck’s holiday collection — inspired by “Alice Through the Looking Glass” — are unquestionably grown up and luxe. Disney x Coach made waves with its whimsical Mickey Mouse-inspired designs; Kenzo gave “The Jungle Book” the #fashion treatment; Trina Turk’s “Finding Dory” maillot is 100 percent beach-ready; and Nixon’s collection of “Star Wars” watches are probably already on your dad’s wish list.
We’re in the midst of a Disney cultural renaissance of sorts; it began last December with the highly anticipated “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” followed by premieres of “The Jungle Book,” “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” “Finding Dory” and, most recently, “The Legend of Tarzan,” starring Margot Robbie — and the fashion industry has taken advantage.
“Designers and artists around the world are attracted to iconic Disney characters because of their pop cultural appeal,” says Heather Laing-Obstbaum, Disney’s Vice President of Product Development for Soft Lines. “Celebrating personal style and expression through fashion have often served as cornerstones of our beloved characters, and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate that than with some of the most popular fashion houses and brands out there.”
It’s not just limited to the fashion space, either. Getting Snow White’s pretty red pout, Elsa’s eggplant smoky eye or Alice’s long, fluttery lashes has never been easier (and more on-brand) than via Disney’s recent beauty collabs with companies like Sephora and Urban Decay. Laing-Obstbaum cites beauty as a “natural extension” of fashion.
Obvious cute factor aside, the recent onslaught of Disney collabs clearly plays to millennial buyers’ love of all things #throwback-related (see: chokers, Pokémon Go); what all these items have in common is that they resonate on an emotional level.
Disney characters are also pretty universally known and liked. By releasing, say, a Minnie Mouse-inspired clutch, Kate Spade might appeal to fans of the character who weren’t already Kate Spade customers.
One could also see these fashion collaborations as a new alternative to the dwindling high street collaboration model. (Activewear collaborations are another example of this.) “This is the new high-low collaboration,” Romney Jacob, North American director of mind-set at WGSN, told Market Watchearlier this month. “Five to 10 years ago, it was about luxury designers doing capsule collections for fast-fashion stores. What we see replacing that high-low excitement is luxury brands embracing youth culture.”
And given that royalties from licensed products make up a significant portion of Disney’s revenues (often comparable to or even more than a film like “Frozen” or “Star Wars” might gross at the box office), the entertainment company only stands to benefit.