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Sarah Andelman tells Colette’s story and the future of collaborations

The secret of their success? The surprise effect.

Sarah Andelman tells Colette’s story and the future of collaborations The secret of their success? The surprise effect.

Collaborations are everywhere.

They are the element around which the world of fashion moves today. The no longer secret ingredient that guarantees hype and popularity success and sales to various brands.

To notice, much earlier than others, the potential of partnership between entities also very different, was Colette.

The iconic Parisian store at 213 Rue Saint-Honoré, through a unique mix of high fashion brands, streetwear, gadgets, toys, books and design objects, has shaped the concept of trend and created unique products with a lot of employees , from Balenciaga to KITH, from Raf Simons to Louis Vuitton

Now that after 20 years its adventure is about to end - closing doors on December 20, Sarah Lerfel, who with her mother Colette Roussaux turned the store into something magical, retraces its story for

"When Colette opened in 1997, our goal was to bring together products we liked and couldn’t find in Paris, from fashion to street, beauty, design, music, high-tech, and even waters." - the woman remembers - "We had a lot of exclusive brands that we mixed with more readily available products, and the mix was unique".

Creating this sense of uniqueness at the beginning was not easy.

Each brand had only a showroom and merely repeat the same item at every store, such as the original New Balance and adidas Stan Smith, but Colette wanted more.

It wanted "another color or something with a unique twist".

And not content to have your own logo on the product. With this spirit, the first collaboration with Adidas and Claude Closky was born in 2005, as well as successors such as Raf Simons x Vans and pop-ups Colette Meets x Comme des Garçons in 2004 or Colette x Gap in 2008 in New York.

The vision of the creators of the Paris store has been to understand that for designers to escape their usual routine is crucial and to understand that the success of a collaboration is linked to the surprise effect.

"You cannot do collaborations and always ask for the same things" - says Andelman to Complex and continues - "Each project has to be different, and you must feel free. It’s a balance between respect of who you are as a brand and flexibility to impose no limits on the creativity… You can’t just do a collaboration for the sake of doing a collaboration. It can’t be just for the money. Each part has to bring something to the table. It can be the craftsmanship or the genius idea, but I think the result should be something you cannot do alone. It must come from the fact that two entities must use each other’s savoir faire".

Thus it was born the scent of Thom Browne, the Laison between Hello Kitty and Playboy or Colette version of the classic silk scarves Brides de Gala Hermès.

And more realities join together, more interesting becomes the result of collaboration as it happened in 2005 when Chanel, Fendi, Goyard, Burberry, Miu Miu and others reinterpreted Sony’s PSP.

The danger of the proliferation of these partnerships?

For Colette’s owner is "to only exist via collaborations. That’s simply not possible. You have to be able to exist by yourself. You have to be able to build your own single identity before or in parallel of the development of collaborations".

Recently Nike has worked with designers like Riccardo Tisci, Virgil Abloh, Sacai, Undercover and luxury fashion brands like Valentino, Dior, and Celine have started making their own sneakers.

Watching the kids of seven, eight years wearing pieces of Virgil Abloh or Supreme x Louis Vuitton, what we would call street style and which for them is simply fashionable, Sarah Andelman understands that this is the future: the brands, above all, those of the luxury love so much collaboration by merging with themselves, becoming street clones of themselves.

What do you think?