I don’t know what the secret to a good collaboration is. But I know a guy who does. Robert Squillaro is the Chief Merchandising Officer for J. Press, and has been key in the last several successful J. Press collaborations. This time out, Squillaro and Press are working with Frances Valentine, and if it is after 10:00 in the morning today my time, you can see their work here.
Collaborations work when they enhance a brand, they don’t work when they dilute it. We have seen some fashion collaborations that look like test tube accidents, but J. Press has been unerring in their sense of balance. I asked Mr. Squillaro if they were ramping up this program in light of this success, and he indicated that while they do receive a lot of requests, they “try to limit them to one or two per season.” Which is also smart.
This brand stewardship was not lost on Frances Valentine.
“We are thrilled to be working with J. Press on this collaboration for Spring, which marks our first-ever men’s styles,” stated Frances Valentine CEO and Founder, Elyce Arons. “J. Press is the perfect menswear partner for Frances Valentine with its quality tailoring, focus on craftsmanship and its storied brand history.”
I was also very interested in how these collaborations work. “Each one is unique, but always both brands have to agree on the products,” Mr. Squillaro said. “Mostly we try to work with other brands that we think will put a fun twist on both brands, but occasionally we partner with someone that just seems like a natural fit for both of us,” he continued. “We hope that some of the collaborations will bring in new customers to check out the merchandise we carry, but also for our existing customers to try something that might be a little outside of their regular wardrobe style. For example, with our current collaboration with Frances Valentine we surrounded the signature floral print merchandise with shirts and shorts made with more traditional J. Press fabrics – madras and solid twills – but in vibrant colors to work back to the floral prints.”
Trying pretty much anything brings… feedback (don’t I know it). I asked about that aspect.
“Much of the feedback has been interesting from both customers and the marketplace. Most has been very positive with other brands being impressed with our commitment to manufacturing in the USA, Canada and the UK as much as possible. Of course when we do something with a brand or product outside of our norm we occasionally get comments from our traditional customers insinuating that all is lost and we’ll never be the same again,” Squilarro concluded, “Our strategy is to continue to broaden our customer base and product offering, but never to abandon the classic style and products that we feel defines our identity as a brand. As far as design capacity goes, we never design just for the sake of designing. We believe that many things are timeless for a reason and do not need to be constantly reinvented. Maybe just a tweak here and there.”
More on this later, but here, if you are available, this has three of our favorite companies in the same place at the same time twice, and looks to be a great evening.