Would a fashion collaboration work for Starbucks?
Starbucks may be fashionable in the U.S., but in Japan the coffee retailer is taking steps into the actual world of fashion with a line of apparel and accessories.
Starbucks Reserve Roastery Tokyo recently announced a new collaboration with Tokyo-based clothing brand Beams and functional outdoor brand Mountain Research as reported on Hypebeast. The collection includes such functional items as a cargo apron that converts into a miniature table and designer hand towels. It also features home goods such as a cutting board, a plastic basket and a fabric lounge chair. Each piece bears the Starbucks Reserve Roastery logo. The pieces in the collection will be available exclusively at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery location in Tokyo.
In the U.S., Starbucks has also had success creating collections of luxury accessories where one might not expect to see them.
In 2015, for instance, it released a line of gift cards decorated with Swarovski crystals which ended up selling out, according to Adweek. The gift cards retailed for $200 despite being loaded with only $50 of store credit. The collection also featured designer Starbucks thermoses.
Apparel and home goods, though, are a different breed of accessory than decorative gift cards or thermoses. The new Roastery collections raise the question if pricey apparel and accessories branded with Starbucks’ logo will feel less like high fashion and more like promotional swag.
Earlier in the decade, Starbucks U.S. made an attempt to build its connection to the apparel world. In 2011 it partnered with the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund to create a line of Starbucks-inspired, limited-edition designer t-shirts as part of the company’s fortieth anniversary celebration. The t-shirts were available both at Starbucks’ online store and at Nordstrom.
While Starbucks overseas has recently been working to build its fashion cachet, perhaps the biggest news from the chain domestically has been its move into another type of non-coffee offering. Last month, Starbucks announced the planned launch of a suite of cloud-based B2B solutions to enable other restaurants to build out and improve their digital offerings.
- Starbucks Reserve Roastery Taps BEAMS for Fashion-Forward Coffee Gear – Hypebeast
- Why Starbucks Sold Out of Those $200 Swarovski Gift Cards – Adweek
- Alexander Wang, Sophie Theallet, and Billy Reid Design T-Shirts Inspired by Starbucks – Starbucks Stories
- Will cloud-based services elevate Starbucks beyond coffee retailing? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why would or wouldn’t having designer apparel and home goods collections available at the Roastery concept work in the U.S. market? What sort retailers not usually associated with apparel or home goods sales could benefit from such partnerships?