Trend Talk: Fashion Collaborations

One trend at Bandai Fashion is collaborations, where Bandai teams up with famous and up-and-coming boutique brands to produce a series of dual-branded items.

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Kamen Rider Ghost silver ring (2015; 19,440 yen) by HaraKIRI, a Japanese high-end jewelry brand.

Recent Bandai collaboration items include the Drive Type Wild casual wear jacket (by Harold’s Gear, makers of boutique vintage motorcycle wear) and the many Kamen Rider jewelry items including Ghost’s ring and the (in)famous Baron bracelet by HaraKIRI, a high end jewelry maker.

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Type Wild leather jacket (2015; 162,000 yen) with Harold’s Gear, a Japanese vintage motorcycle gear brand.

Collaborations are popular because carry the collaborating brand’s reputation for quality and style, and have the potential to attract “crossover” fans from either brand.

Collaboration with Red Monkey, an American leather brand.
Shocker wristwatch collaboration (2015; 48,600 yen) with Red Monkey, an American handmade leather brand.

However, this is a marketing strategy that has not yet caught on in the West. Power Rangers clothing and accessories, for example, tend to be low quality and with little variety.

What do our contributors think about Bandai collaborations? Do they think this approach, involving a media franchise teaming up with designer fashion brands, could be successful in the United States?

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WELL IF YOU WEREN’T AWARE OF MY OPINION ON BARON’S BRACELET…. Really, my opinion on this is very similar to the leather talk: I think it’s a good idea, but the strict cosplay items should NOT be part of this, as it creates weird pricing difference. The entirety of Kaito’s outfit (shirt, vest, pants, coat, belt, ring) costs only a little more than HALF of what that bracelet does. It’s simply absurd.
As for whether it’d be successful in the US… well, that entirely depends upon the franchise and what/who its fans were purported to be. “Nerdy” franchises probably wouldn’t have much success with designer brands, as these things are so extremely split in popular culture here. But maybe it’d be a smashing success instead? Who knows.

 

Royal

I’m mostly indifferent towards collaboration items. Taking advantage of the expertise of the boutique fashion and accessory designers might result in a higher quality item, but the inevitable price increase from carrying two brand names is an ever looming concern.

If these attempts manages to spread awareness of Sentai or Rider and bring on new fans, then great! But as a westerner who hasn’t heard of any of these collaboration brands before, there really isn’t much effect. Judging by the frequency of these items, there must be at least some success for Bandai to keep doing it.

 

Nitoh Kousuke

I agree with the fact that it makes items really weirdly overpriced. On one hand it makes really nice looking things, but on the other hand I just think about how Philip’s watch shouldn’t be nearly 400 dollars….

 

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Actually, as I was doing some research for my last comment, I noticed that they’d recently done a second release of said Baron bracelet. So /someone/ is buying them. But I doubt those are foreign fans, lol. You’re right – the appeal just isn’t there for people who don’t know the brands.

 

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I actually really like the idea of these collabs. It means that often a really boutique designer gets huge exposure, and many of the collab items are extremely stylish! Often Bandai designs have a certain look (case in point: bad boy secondary rider with leather/pleather, a giant skull-like ring, and a crazy wallet chain?) so it’s nice to have variety in design. That said, I agree that main cosplay items shouldn’t be collabs because that makes that item inaccessible to many fans due to price.

I wouldn’t be surprised if collabs because popular in the US, though it would probably be with a larger franchise like Marvel or DC. I can totally see high end designer brand-name Marvel or DC purses or shoes being a success. Even in Power Rangers, there is a lot of demand for high quality casual wear items: just look at the success of Zaidi/Just Epic Stuff’s hoodies and Starlight Studio’s communicators. These items are a lot more expensive than the PR gear you might find at Hot Topic, and many fans are willing to pay.

 

the twitchy kitten

So I’m not very familiar with the sentai/rider collab items, but I know in the Sailor Moon community, they’ve been going a bit crazy for the collabs. I know the Samantha Vega x Sailor Moon purses were very popular, so were the Pullip dolls, which were less spendy than the purses. The Sailor Moon community was a bit aghast at the Kamitani tiara collab (~$3500 for a gold plated brass and fake pearl encrusted tiara!). The biggest problem that I have with the Sailor Moon collab jewelry versus the sentai/rider jewelry collabs is that while the sentai/rider jewelry is really solidly made, the Sailor Moon stuff always looks cheap to me. I agree with Sajia in that DC/Marvel/Doctor Who collabs would be really successful here in the States.

 

Royal

There are a few designer handbags that have used pop culture franchises in their designs. Dooney and Bourke have Disney inspired prints on bags sold exclusively at the Disney parks and website. Coach has a line with Peanuts characters on their bags and accessories as well as some leather Snoopy dolls. So it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Actually Dooney and Bourke already has Avenger’s themed bags. So super hero items are out there. Of course The Avengers is a billion dollar movie juggernaut with Disney’s name on it. Saban brands and Power Rangers doesn’t quite have the same prestige.

One other issue I noticed with collaboration items. Bandai has made most accessories available as MTO. So the option to order them new from Bandai still exists after the show is over and the initial production run is gone. They do not appear to be able to offer the same availability for collaboration items. Unless of course you’re Kaito’s bracelet and you get run after run after run. Of course Bandai is rather unpredictable as to which items will be offered as MTO and which are limited production runs, but having some available is better than nothing.

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