I gave an example of how cross-brand collaborations can detract from their potential when they are not executed with proper intent. So to balance out that argument I wanted to present a collaboration that I feel brings both brands involved into a new arena. I’ll be dissecting the Nike x Undercover collaboration called GYAKUSOU.
Nike x Undercover running apparel and shoes go by the name GYAKUSOU. Nike partnered with apparel manufactures Undercover to make running gear targeted towards perfection for runners. The collaborative capsule comes with every type of apparel needed for running, from shoes to outerwear. This collaboration started in 2010 and continues to produce some of the most functional running apparel to date.
Problem(or lack there of):
As I mentioned before cobranding can have unintended affects for all brands involved, especially when there is not a focus or purpose behind the collaboration. That is far from the case with the GYAKUSOU cobranded apparel. Taking to heart whom this apparel is meant for Undercover and Nike spared no expense to make sure it was well suited for their target audience.
GYAKUSOU is derived from the word ‘gyaku’, meaning wrong way. Now this doesn’t mean much on the surface but it helps point out why this collaboration is so successful. To get more of an understanding you have know a little about the running culture, especially in Japan. Typically at most running paths or tracks everyone runs in the same direction, to either help keep order or just because they don’t like to standout as the odd-man-out. Well that isn’t the case with Takahashi, owner of Undercover. He and other like minded individuals choose to run against the gain, in opposition to the other runners, or “gyaku”.
Instead of Nike just taking the Undercover brand name and image, slapping it on some apparel and calling it a collection, they worked together with the brand to bring out what is best of both brands. Undercover is known for their functional stylish apparel and Nike is known for the performance of their wares. Together the two brands created a collection that is as functional as it is stylish. Making sure to incorporate what would be best for the runner, not just the fashion maverick.
The result is a collection of goods that do exactly what both brands have become known for. Instead of letting one brand carry the collaboration, they worked to make sure that both brands were elevated through the cross branding. This is how you make these types of collaborations work for everyone, by putting in the time, effort and understanding needed to make great product.
Solution(or lack there of):
Produce more functional product! The only issue I have with this co-branding is the price it commands at retail. The apparel is on the more costly side of running apparel but that is what is expected from fans of Undercover, paying the price to get the premium. If Nike were to lower the cost it could cheapen Undercover’s image and could damage the brand. Nike understood that and Undercover understood running apparel, that is why this collaboration helped everyone involved.