Louis Vuitton x Supreme

Something important happened in Paris on Thursday.  Louis Vuitton, the world's biggest luxury brand, launched their collaboration line with skater label Supreme in their 2017 Autumn / Winter Show.

Photo Credit: Getty

Photo Credit: Getty

Important how?  Well, the move represents a distinct shift in the landscape of luxury clothing.  A move of this calibre would have been unthought of 5 years ago.  This is a mix of street culture and high-fashion to the extreme.

The collection was was inspired by New York and the collaborative working methods of Jean-Michele Basquiat, Keith Haring, Julian Schnabel, Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol in particular.  Of course, collaborations are not new; however the key difference here is the seemingly polar opposites in brand identity.  Yes, Marc Jacobs collaborated with artist Stephen Sprouse during his time at LV and Gucci's Alessandro Michele teamed up with graffiti artist Gucci Ghost, but these are individuals not brands from the extremes of the fashion spectrum.  So how would you describe this menswear collection?  “It's not streetwear,” said Louis Vuitton’s artistic director of menswear, Kim Jones. “It’s American sportswear.  Well, really, it’s just modern menswear – it’s just what people wear now.”

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

Of course, Kim Jones has experience in the sportswear arena, through his projects with Umbro in the mid-noughties.  Here Jones pushed from the opposite direction, thrusting the trainingwear led company into the fashion arena.  And even further back, Jones cut his teeth working for Gimme5, a London distributor who sourced Supreme to seminal Soho shops like The Hideout. 

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

But can the LV x Supreme collab really work?  Jones thinks so, "It taps into a feeling that cult brands with devoted fans producing clothes with oblique logos and 'in joke' slogans are becoming a dominant force in the high fashion world."  The meld of styles has resulted in denim jackets and bumbags adorned by the distinct red and white Supreme colourway, backpacks, handbags and pouches embossed with the logos of both brands.

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

Rumours of a LV x Supreme collab surfaced in early January when an image appeared on Jones' Instagram, before quickly being taken down.  A slip of the finger or part of a guerilla marketing campaign?  However, many were skeptical since the two brands had a legal dispute in 2000; Louis Vuitton had sent a cease and desist letter to Supreme for making and selling skateboard decks that bore a print similar to LV’s toile monogram.  Supreme responded by pulling the deck from its site.  When speaking with Vogue, Jones confirmed that the collab had been in development for about a year, so it appears that the brands have kissed and made up.  “In this world where everyone wants the new, new, new, it’s nice to be able to throw in something that’s completely fresh,” Jones stated, “All I’m trying to do is create customer excitement and create things that I enjoy.”

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

Photo Credit: lmaxtree

So what exactly is the objective for this collab?  Firstly, it is common knowledge that Supreme fans display a fervent appreciation of the brand.  It is commonplace that overnight queues form outside the Supreme New York store when new collections are about to drop.  And it is the same fans who bought Supreme branded clay bricks from eBay for up to $1,000!  So sales are almost guaranteed.  Secondly, it gives LV an opportunity to tap into the millennial market and up their cool factor within this hotly contested demographic.

The collection is released on Monday July 17th 2017 in selected stores.  I share the optimism of Kim Jones and think the collaboration with be a huge success.  In fact, I think Louis Vuitton has changed the luxury fashion landscape, blurring the lines between high-end brands and cultural streetwear.

Do you share this optimism?  Do you think other luxury brands will follow suit?  Leave me a comment below with your thoughts.