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Olivier Rousteing with staff at H&M Champs Elysees
Olivier Rousteing with staff at H&M Champs Elysees
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for H&M

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The Best Fashion Collabs of 2015

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The collaboration landscape has pivoted significantly since Karl Lagerfeld and H&M popularized the high-low concept way back in 2004. In the decade-plus since, we've seen countless flings between high-end designers and mass retailers. But between 2012 and 2014, it seemed that the approach had reached its peak and consumers were bored. (The first big tell was Target's quickly-reduced collab with Neiman Marcus over the 2012 holiday season.)

This year, stores proved they could stoke the collab fire — with some important tweaks. 2015's collaborations were all about big-box retailers aligning with brands that have their own cult-followings (like Lilly Pulitzer for Target) and never, ever estimating the pull of a celebrity (remember that time Rihanna made a Puma sneaker sell out?). Below, we outline the most successful collabs of the year, plus a few honorable mentions.


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Cult Brands

Lilly Pulitzer x Target

Target brilliantly tapped into the print-heavy brand — scratch that, lifestyle — of Lilly (that's a total of three l's, as at least one Northern fashion writer quickly learned). The massive 250-piece collection featured womenswear (including plus sizes!), girl's clothes, home goods, beauty, and much, much more. The fandom was real and shoppers turned out: Target stores across the country saw epic-lines in advance of the "Pink Sunday" launch and target.com crashed, the ultimate sign of success. The resale market was so hot for Lilly x Target that it spurred a guerrilla fan boycott and, ultimately, a statement from Target.

Balmain x H&M

H&M has the designer partnership down to a science. This year they worked with French fashion house Balmain on a 250-piece collection for women and men.

Balmain's creative director Olivier Rousteing is something of a brand himself, with a hefty social media presence and a clique that includes literally every Kardasho-Jenner, Justin Bieber, the Hadids, and everyone else that young people are obsessed with. Balmain has skyrocketed its red-carpet-appearance count and infiltrated radio-rap ("When I heard Balmain in a rap song, I thought, 'We made it,'" Rousteing told Out).

Despite being founded in 1945, 2015 was the year Balmain became a household name, thanks in great part to its inhabitation of 250 H&M stores across the globe. H&M benefited, too, with nothing short of complete frenzy in-stores on November 4th and instant sell-through.

Uniqlo and Lemaire

The true fashion fans lay in wait for Christophe Lemaire's Uniqlo collection. Lemaire comes straight from the creative director role at Hermès, and his refined collection for the Japanese retailer was lush with cashmere, wool, and silk. Uniqlo actually restocked the collection mid-December, following its initial October launch. Even better: they're planning a follow-up for spring.

Celeb Power

Puma by Rihanna

Technically Rih is Puma's creative director (allegedly pulling in seven-figures for her duties). Her first shoe for the brand was a $120 creeper-style sneaker that launched in September. The first batch went quickly, and Puma by Rihanna was one of the few bright spots for the German active brand, whose overall sales are way, way down.

Yeezy Season 1: Kanye West for Adidas

How to summarize thee, Yeezy Season 1? Here are the facts, without any of the fanfare: Kanye West designed a collection of women's and men's clothing and sneakers for Adidas, under the title Yeezy Season 1. He debuted the line at New York Fashion Week back in February, and the full range hit stores like Barneys and Opening Ceremony early October. The apparel pieces were priced surprisingly high ($400 sweatshirts and $3,000 coats, for example) and didn't sell out with the fervor of the sneakers from the collection, which were released in different colorways throughout the year and sold out instantly each time.

Yeezy Season 2 showed during September's NYFW; this time around Adidas will produce the sneakers — but not the apparel or other footwear.

Carine Roitfeld for Uniqlo

Uniqlo continued its approach to reach for the highest of high fashion by partnering with French fashion editor Carine Roitfeld (longtime Vogue Paris EIC, now head of her own glossy, CR Fashion Book). The collection's leopard-print coat sold out quickly, and a second collection is planned for a February 2016 release.

HBA.Empire

If you wanted to make a time capsule of 2015 culture, the Hood By Air Empire collab would be a choice inclusion. The New York brand has rapidly grown from underground upstart to major fashion week draw, entering mass consciousness with a 40-piece run co-branded with the Fox television hit. The show gets a decent amount of fashion cred from the collab, too, working with one of the buzziest young labels out there (much cooler than Scandal x The Limited).

Honorable Mentions

Gwyneth Paltrow x Edie Parker x ...rappers names?

Drake x Canada Goose

"CB2 x Kravitz Design by Lenny Kravitz"

Victor Cruz for 3x1

The Weeknd x Alexander Wang: "WANGXO"

The Weeknd x Pax

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