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Is Fendi “gonna catch ’em all” with their new Pokémon collaboration?

Photo by Matic Zupan for Pexels

Renowned fashion and leather goods brand Fendi announced their collaboration with Pokémon. Created by Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara (fragment design), he reworked several well-known Fendi pieces by merging it with the Pokémon character, “Dragonite”. The collection is inspired by the upcoming Year of the Dragon in 2024. As adorable as the items appear, the question that remains is how well they’ll actually sell.

Watch the explainer below to understand the details of the collection!

Who’s Hiroshi Fujiwara?

What the video only briefly touched upon was the designer that created the collection, Hiroshi Fujiwara. Fujiwara isn’t the creative director of Fendi, but he was brought in to merge the brand identities of Pokémon (Nintendo) and Fendi, as he’s known for successful collaboration in the fashion industry and beyond. Fujiwara is the script doctor of streetwear. Though he had his start in fashion, his brand fragment design has transcended the fashion industry and has connections in music, technology, and hospitality as well.

Fendi x Pokémon GO

Another facet that the video didn’t touch upon was the digital part of the campaign. Alongside the real pieces, Fendi will also release digital items for your avatar to wear in the game Pokémon GO. Pokémon GO is a mobile game that uses augmented reality (AR), in which the player can go outside and catch virtual Pokémon in real-world locations. Although it’s free to play, users can make in-app purchases. This is where the Fendi x Pokémon items will be sold.

This move into the digital space follows a slew of other brands that have done the same. Balenciaga has sold their garments as ‘skins’ in the game Fortnite, Prada for Riders Republic, Louis Vuitton for League of Legends, and so on. This is to create brand awareness with a younger audience; a stepping stone, if you will, before they’re able to buy the real garments.

While it’s a smart marketing move, the ethics of such practices are debatable.

Unbeknownst to the parents, children can very easily make these purchases without their supervision. All they need is the parents’ credit card and the information is locked in the app. Additionally, it will create a divide between the ‘have’s’ and ‘have not’s.’ Within the game, one will be able to see who has the income to buy ‘luxury’ skins, and who has not. It’s a class distinction that otherwise wouldn’t have been known.

Effectivity of the collaboration

The question isn’t whether the collection (offline and online) will sell, but what’ll be the turning point for such egregious collaborations. The unsubtlety of these garments feel akin to what a fast fashion brand would create. This isn’t to diminish the brilliant work of Fujiwara, but fashion brands ought to start questioning where they draw the line between obvious marketing and tasteful partnership.

From 2010s logomania to monster-collabs such as these in the 2020s, only time will tell what the next move will be for the fashion industry to rake in revenue.

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