Avant-Garde for the Masses - A Study of Consumer Perception of Avant-Gardist Designer Brands after Collaborating with Mainstream Fashion
Sammanfattning: The use of intra-industrial co-branding within fashion has increased dramatically over the last decades, with a wide range of partner combinations including even avant-garde fashion designers. These brands are often licensing collaborations with mainstream mass-market brands, but with uncertain effects for their brands. This study explores potential effects brand collaborations between high-end avant-garde fashion designers and low-end mass-market fashion brands have on consumer perception of the former. The applied research model combines general co-branding theory with theories on fashion in order to get an industry specific understanding of the consequences and effects of the brand collaborations. The study examines effects on consumer perception based on qualitative interviews with consumers and experts. The findings, in line with co-branding theory, show that the level of fit between the partnering brands in a collaboration influences the consumer perception of the avant-garde designer, where a higher degree of fit results in more positive attitudes. The avant-garde brand's identity is shown to alter after a collaboration due to negative spillover effects from the mainstream ally. Further, the findings show the extended spread of the collaboration to have unanimous effects on the avant-garde brand and consumer perception. In conclusion, the study finds support for that the contradictive nature of the partner brands affect the perception of the high-end avant-garde designer. The findings indicate that the avant-garde designer is exposed to risks of impaired consumer perception, which need to be further explored in order to strengthen the grounds for avant-garde designers' decision-making when considering collaboration with mainstream mass-market brands.
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