In today’s retail landscape, newness, ever-changing inventory and even diversification beyond traditional brand boundaries are the orders of the day,and merchandisers are working harder than ever to reel in interesting partnerships with celebrities and even competing brands.

The result is some strange bedfellows, but might just be enough to catch millennials’ ever-wandering eyes and keep their dwindling attention spans.

Diversification is for Brand Portfolios, too

Urban Outfitters embodies this diversification trend well. It’s gotten considerable attention with its Music+Tech product line, which incorporates a plethora of (mostly retro-chic) music devices and electronics into its predominantly clothing- and accessories-based business.

Madewell, J. Crew’s sister brand focusing on young women’s clothing and quality denim, launched an ambitious 24-day long campaign last year called Denim Every Day, in which it released a new denim product every day for 24 straight days. Its partnerships included a collaboration with longtime skateboarding sneaker icon Vans, which linked up with Madewell to issue a denim-clad version of its classic high-top sneaker.

Madewell also got into the celebrity-tinged branding game, designing a denim jumpsuit in collaboration with Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle magazine/brand, Goop. Venturing even further beyond its product line, Madewell also released as part of the series a denim chair made in partnership with ABC Carpet and a custom scented candle with P.F. Candle Co, according to insider-trends.

Madewell Everyday Denim Cover

High-Value Meets High-Fashion

Madewell’s campaign is a good example of a company known for one thing leaving its comfort zone to offer new and exciting products to its customers, generating buzz and interest along the way.

French design house Balenciaga made waves (and drew quite a bit of scorn) when it released its $2,145 “Extra-Large Shopper” bag. While a high-end fashion brand’s customers typically wouldn’t blink at an item with such a price tag, the internet quickly took notice that it was a near-doppelgänger of the 99-cent FRAKTA shopping bag sold by modular Swedish furniture giant IKEA.

Building off the attention garnered from of a bit of imitation it had no part in, IKEA has since wandered way off the reservation in partnerships with high-fashion names like Milan-based OFF-WHITE and more recently with the pricey Byredo perfumes, which now offers an IKEA-inspired scent.

Seasonal product launches and high-concept catalogues just aren’t enough to get customers in the door anymore. What’s new and what’s next have become the focus of merchandisers, and we can expect to see even more oddball pairings down the line if partnerships like these keep the foot traffic and headlines coming.


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