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Monday, November 29, 2021

Gucci-Xbox to Meta’s Ray-Ban ‘smart’ glasses, fashion-tech collaborations that stunned in 2021

Not only are these fashion-tech collaborations important marketing and PR tools but they also create something genuinely new.

Written by Anuj Bhatia | New Delhi |
Updated: November 15, 2021 4:15:37 pm
Gucci Xbox Series X, fashion tech collabs 2021, fashion tech collaborations, Ray-Ban Stories, Tag Heuer-Super Mario Limited Edition watch, Thom Browne Galaxy Z Fold 3The exclusive GG-patterned Xbox Series X is on sale for $10,000. (Image credit: Gucci)

Tech brands collaborating with fashion houses aren’t a new thing, but lately, the buzz is building about how the two distinct sectors are coming together in a bid to gain a set of young customers with high disposable income in an increasingly social commerce space. From luxury fashion labels bringing their designs to Nintendo’s hit game Animal Crossing: New Horizons via virtual pop-ups to Microsoft’s Xbox team partnering with Adidas to create limited-edition Xbox sneakers, it seems fashion and technology are becoming more and more intertwined. In fact, fashion-tech collaborations are going to be much deeper and stronger in the metaverse where the real and digital worlds collide.

In the past few months alone there has been a range of fashion-tech collaborations between the world’s biggest tech brands and luxury fashion houses. Not only are these fashion-tech collaborations important marketing and PR tools but they also create something genuinely new. Even if collaborations don’t provide a major revenue source, they bring brand awareness and keep the buzz going around the product. These are some of the best fashion-tech collaborations we saw in 2021.

Gucci and Xbox

Coinciding with their respective anniversaries, Xbox and Italian luxury fashion house Gucci have teamed up for a special edition Xbox Series X. The $10,000 bundle includes an Xbox Series X, Microsoft’s latest next-generation console, featuring a laser-engraved pattern with Gucci’s trademark Rhombi design. It also comes with Gucci’s vintage bag which has a similar style as the house’s Fake/Not Fake luggage line that was released last year.

A special edition Gucci Xbox Series X will cost a jaw-dropping 10,000 USD. (Image credit: Gucci)

The bundle also includes two Xbox controllers that bear a patented Gucci stripe down the left grip. Plus, a subscription to Xbox Game Pass is also included as part of the package. You are literally paying a huge sum for this limited-edition Xbox Series X, which typically sells for Rs 50,000, for a Gucci name. The carrying case which has “Xbox” embossed on the bag drives the price of the bundle as a similar bag from Gucci’s Fake/Not Fake line retailed for about $5,800 last year. Gucci will sell only 100 Xbox Series X consoles at its most high-profile stores including the ones in New York City, Beverly Hills, Milan, London, Berlin, Beijing, and Tokyo.

Ray-Ban and Meta

Meta’s (formerly called Facebook) collaboration with Ray-Ban isn’t about releasing a limited-edition product or collection in small quantities at select retail locations. That strategy of “product drops” is an industry-wide phenomenon, and the business of hype works for several reasons. But Meta’s pitch for $299 smart glasses it has made with Ray-Ban parent Luxottica is about the company’s push into the metaverse. The glasses, called Ray-Ban Stories, are similar to devices such as Snapchat Spectacles.

Ray-Ban Stories are seen as a direct rival to Snapchat’s Spectacles. (Image credit: Ray-Ban)

These are not Augmented reality (AR) glasses by any means, rather “smart” glasses that allow people to capture hands-free images, listen to music, and make calls. The smart glasses come in three styles including the Ray-Ban ‘Wayfarer’ which is a symbol of fashion and has been featured in many cult movies including the classic 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Some may find these glasses creepy and an invasion of privacy but the reality is they give a peek into Meta’s broader vision to bring the information onto our eyes.

Tag Heuer and Nintendo

Probably one of the unexpected fashion-tech collaborations of this year, the Tag Heuer-Super Mario Limited Edition watch shows the brand power of Mario, the most-loved video game character of all time. In this case, Tag Heuer’s “long-term’ collaboration with Nintendo is ultimately about reaching out to a new wave of affluent yet fashion-centric audiences that were not previously reachable. The collaboration with LVMH’s Tag Heuer and Nintendo is proof that the traditional demographic for luxury watches is shifting from ‘wealthy old-age clientele’ to millennial users.

The TAG Heuer Connected x Super Mario Limited Edition is a great way to show off your love for Mario, a global cultural icon. (Image credit: TAG Heuer)

With only 2,000 pieces available at $2150 apiece, the limited-edition smartwatch has a Mario-themed flair to it, complete with a redesigned user interface and the classic ‘M’ on the crown. Collaborations such as this work primarily because they aren’t co-branded marketing plugs. Instead, a product is designed to reflect a unique point of view by merging different influences.

Thom Browne and Samsung

Known for its distinct tailoring, American designer Thom Browne’s collaboration with Samsung did exactly as it was intended to and made its name familiar in the tech circles. Browne has been a frequent collaboration with the South Korean giant lately, who adds an element of subtle luxury to Samsung’s high-end foldable phones.

If you are a fan of luxury smartphones, then the Thom Browne Galaxy Z Fold 3 is for you. (Image credit: Samsung)

With a contemporary appeal, Browne’s influence blends well with Samsung’s design ethos. The special edition Thom Browne Galaxy Z Fold 3 which retails for $3499 has the designer’s signature stripes in red, white, and blue. The bundle also includes leather accessories, a Samsung smartwatch, a pen, and Samsung Galaxy buds. The popularity of Thom Browne Galaxy Z Fold 3 can be gauged from the fact that the limited-edition bundle, despite its high price tag, sold out in minutes in Taiwan when it hit the market earlier this year.

Berluti and Bang & Olufsen

Earlier this year, two giants from fashion and audio came together to create the luxury collaboration of the year. Luxury leather goods maker Berluti and Danish audio brand Bang & Olufsen united to create something truly special. The six-piece, limited-edition, ranging from a waterproof Bluetooth speaker, wireless headphones to a home speaker, honour the heritage and craftsmanship associated with both brands.

Berluti’s limited-edition products in collaboration with Danish luxury audio brand are aimed at urban travelers. (Image credit: Bang & Olufsen)

Pitched as high-end fashion objects, Bang & Olufsen has taken some of its most iconic products and crafted them with Berluti’s emblematic Venezia leather. The collection isn’t cheap, though. The Beolab 90 Berluti Edition speakers, for instance, is a made-to-order system and costs $137,000, making it the most expensive audio system ever made by B&O.

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