Melbourne-based independent fashion label Pageant didn’t foresee having a capsule collection of unisex athletic-wear, including a piece with padlock-printed pants. But that was before a collaboration with Melbourne-based musician Banoffee (aka Martha Brown).
Pageant co-founder Amanda Cumming says their reason for collaborating was simple: it’s what the industry is founded on.
“That’s the nature of fashion,” says Cumming. “We collaborate with stylists, designers, and the stores we work with.” Cumming’s business partner, Kate Reynolds, says the key to Pageant’s successful collaborations is communication. “In collaborations you get to a point where maybe you’re not on the same page, but you just have to talk about it,” she says. “It’s like being in a relationship. Ultimately we just trust each other, so it will always be okay.”
Pageant and Banoffee’s union transpired via mutual appreciation. “We use her as a muse,” says Reynolds. “We love her aesthetic and music. Whenever she comes in to see us she tries things on and puts pieces together in a way that is just so unexpected. We get such joy whenever we see her wearing our pieces in ways we would never imagine.”
The two parties also suspected they shared a fan base.
“We noticed from going to festivals with Martha that there were a lot of women wearing Pageant,” says Cumming. “It seemed like by collaborating with her we were talking to our own audience.”
It wasn’t just crossover appeal that drove the union – Brown introduced a fresh creative spirit. “We were so intrigued with how her mind works,” says Reynolds. “It was such a cool experience to collaborate with her.”
Though talking of a relationship forged amongst friends, Reynolds locally-minded comments echo those at the other end of the industry. In 2015, when high-end designer Dion Lee announced a sports-luxe collection with chainstore Target, reaction was mixed. But when Broadsheet spoke to Lee about the move, he pointed to the potential crossover appeal – both commercial and creative – as a key motivating factor for the union.
“That’s the great thing about collaborations,” said Lee at the time. “They bring together the unexpected. We’re a very niche brand, and I was interested in the opportunity to broaden our brand awareness.”
It’s a similar situation for Melbourne fashion brand MIMCO, who have collaborated on a new label design with wine-maker Brown Brothers, resulting in limited-edition bottles of Prosecco and Prosecco Rosé that feature the signature MIMCO “Supernatural” motif design in matte black, alabaster and rose gold.
Georgia Hack, MIMCO marketing manager, echoes the Pageant team when she says, collaborating is second nature in the industry. “Creativity and collaboration is at the heart of everything we do,” says Hack. “We put a lot of thought into who we partner with. So it’s exciting to collaborate on a creative project that allows us to explore other avenues of design.”
Hack says MIMCO’s challenge in the partnership was matching its aesthetic to the Brown Brothers’ product. “Initially our design team was overwhelmed with ideas and creative inspiration for this project,” says Hack. “But once we refined our objectives and what we were hoping to achieve, we had a very clear view of what we wanted to deliver.
As with Pageant’s ability to tap into a receptive audience via Banoffee, Hack says MIMCO’s decision to partner with Brown Brothers for the spring racing season was attractive.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to offer our existing customers something special,” says Hack. “Just in time for the party season.”
Though one-offs, do such collaborations have a lasting impact? Pageant’s Amanda Cumming thinks so. “In terms of the ideas that Banoffee brought to our collaboration, there are things we started to think about for our next season,” says the co-founder. “She didn’t change our thinking, but sort of moved it in a different direction as we move forward and design without her.”
This article is presented in partnership with Brown Brothers.