Why do collabs suck now?

by Corey Malley

It's not just that they're bad, it's that the the good bad and obvious all come with a noticeable aftertaste of APATHY.

There is really cool shit happening from really smart people that really care - NB x Auralee, LV & Timberland, et all. These are things that 10 years ago would have felt truly special but now just feel like another little piece of wasted server space in some anonymous warehouse in Arizona as well as our precious little lizard brains.


I think it's a few things. First, it's that collaborations are a merchandising feature now. A way to build out the product line category and try to win a fraction more brain server space. In a way they probably always were, but now it feels too fucking INTENTIONAL; as if there's a blank space on a foam board in a room somewhere saying "collab goes here". Each design a careful exposition of the latest trend-identified colors that satisfies the collect social thirst without offending a single anonymous commentor. Bonus points if "quality", "taste", or "a lowkey vibe" can be applied within each subsequent TikTok reaction.

I think the real problem is that the cultural pipeline has become aging infrastructure. What made all of this shit cool 10-15 years ago was the knowledge that this collaboration was inspired by PEOPLE doing INTERESTING THINGS somewhere romantic and intriguing - a rap collective in Osaka, Skateboarders in LA, Junglists in London - people truly crafting their own world and big brands validating that with SPECIAL, CHALLENGING product. Product so special tha tother microcumminities made it their status signifiers. So deep that most didn't even know.

That pipeline feels gone in this new era. "Culture" is literally quantified right next to their social media handles. Crews have become ad inventory. The first guard of this era - The Hundreds, Diamond Supply, Crooks & Castles all live in gated houses now. BAPE is a holding company asset. All my memories are dead.

The pipeline has morphed from an oil rush to a cyber web literally and figuratively - an exotic pie divided into crumbs - each crumb a vague reminder of the other, none of them really making you understand why the pie is good or why you got the craving to begin with.

I don't really have an answer. Is it blowing up the entire concept for a few years and forcing the PLMs to make their own heat? Is it an acceptance that this is what it is now?

Who even leads the charge? I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to, but it's not a one person job. My gut says the catalyst is RISK. Can we even afford to risk anymore?  

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