Those who pay attention to the Paris Fashion Week catwalks will have seen Lanvin’s collaboration with DC Comics and Balenciaga’s connection to The simpsons. It was impossible to miss, as was the (re) emerging trend of cartoon sneaker collaborations.
Brands that collaborate with cartoon and comic book franchises are nothing new. BAPE’s Early 2000s Marvel Pack features some of the most wanted BAPE-STAs, while Vans single-handedly has collaborated with people like Toy story, Sponge Bob SquarePants, Marvel (many times) and Disney, to name a few. However, with the recent emergence of larger collaborations between the two worlds – two of which were on display in Paris – it feels like we are at the start of a developing trend.
Lanvin hasn’t just collaborated with DC Comics, the luxury brand has taken its most popular shoe in ages and placed huge Cat Woman and Batman heads where the tongue should be. by Balenciaga The simpsons link up, while not technically a product collaboration, is a partnership made from the same fabric. Instead of putting the faces of Bart or Homer on his shoes (admittedly cartoony), Balenciaga dressed the iconic characters from his collection and made them part of the show. So although there is no real Balenciaga x The simpsons product, the characters in the series have always played a decisive role in revealing the collection.
Other brands have also recently tapped cartoon and comic book franchises for collaborations. adidas has released a range of The simpsons Sneakers, including the adidas “Krusty Burger” ZX 10,000 and the Ned Flanders-inspired McCartens, and Jeremy Scott’s cartoonish adidas collaborations are being reissued.
Palace and Vans also recently teamed up in a collaboration that saw Jeremy the Duck become the focal point of London’s staple streetwear very first Vans collaboration. And, a little longer ago, Nike Basketball brought in SpongeBob SquarePants for a very successful collection that used the Kyrie 5 as a canvas.
That’s not to say you’re going to see cartoon sneaker collaborations on every fashion show or drop day, but there’s enough smoke to notice it. And where there is smoke, there is usually fire.
It makes perfect sense for brands to exploit these kinds of franchises for sneaker collaborations. Whenever a brand licenses a brand or collaborates with a comic book or cartoon franchise, the resulting sneaker immediately becomes relevant to a whole new set of consumers. The collaboration opens the doors for fans of the franchise, many of whom are even more serious collectors than sneakerheads, and buy anything related to their favorite show or characters. This happened when adidas collaborated with Dragon Ball-Z in 2018. The sneakersheads were slightly in the shoes, and it was fans of the iconic anime who went crazy for the sneakers on drop day. The same has happened with the Game of Thrones x adidas Ultraboost collection.
Plus, most of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters have been comic book franchises. Before the crown, Marvel films were consistently breaking box office records. Some of the greatest moments in pop culture arose from these films. By collaborating with such properties, sportswear brands ensure at least a captive audience. At worst, they’ve tied the product to a winning horse and are selling more than they would have done through additional exposure. If all goes according to plan, brands are eyeing the ultimate cash cow and (potentially) future Grail status.
Balenciaga x The Simpsons and, to a lesser extent, Lanvin x DC Comics stole Paris Fashion Week. We wouldn’t be surprised to see other brands follow in their footsteps and relaunch a new cycle of the formidable sneaker x comic franchise collaboration. Sneakersheads are, after all, nerds in their own right.
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