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EQL's Picks for the Best Brand Collaborations of 2023

November 20, 2023
Audrey Fairbrother
Sr. Content Marketing Manager

2023 has been a year of groundbreaking brand collaborations, fusing fashion, music, and luxury brands like never before. And as a community of fans ourselves, the EQL team is feeling grateful for those special collabs that redefined standards in the world of commerce, pushing creative boundaries and captivating fans around the world.

New and exciting collaborations are always worth giving thanks for — they inject new energy into fandom and culture, introducing elements of surprise that bring us joy (and that gotta-have-it feeling). As this report from HighSnobiety puts it, “Done right, collaborations generate collectibles, justify high prices, create cult objects, and initiate brands in the domain of intangibles.” 

Of course, some collabs hit different than others. To see which ones resonated the most from 2023, we polled our own little microcosm of fandom, the EQL team, to see what collaborative drops made the biggest splash for them — and why.

Before we dive into the list of the brand collabs we’re most thankful for in 2023, let’s take a look at some key themes that stood out from our team’s responses.

Key Aspects of a Successful Collaboration

Brand collaborations cross boundaries, introduce new creators and creatives, and reach an entirely new world of fans. But not all are destined for greatness. So what’s the difference between a collab launch that fizzles fast vs one that keeps fans talking for years to come? 

According to the EQL crew, here’s what makes a collab extra impactful:

  • Surprise factor: Our team loves to see collabs that combine elements of two exciting brands in a new and unique way, creating something enticing and unexpected.

  • Innovation: EQL’s favorite collaborations are the ones that tear down industry boundaries and blur lines across communities and fandoms.

  • Storytelling: The very best launches have a story that extends well beyond the product and represents a community, cause, or moment in time.

  • Heat: EQL was built on passion, so we know better than anyone that no collab can be successful without generating excitement about their launch. We think the brands on this list did it best in 2023.

  • Experience: Obviously, EQL is a sucker for launches that can pull off a seamless fan experience. A few of our favorites were, no surprise, powered by EQL.

And now, drumroll please… on to our picks!

The Sports Luxe Union: Tiffany & Co. x Nike

Nominated by Andrew Lipp, CEO at EQL 

Tiffany & Co. x Nike Collaboration sneaker

Arguably the hottest collab of the year, 2023 witnessed the beautiful partnership between Tiffany & Co. and sports giant Nike, fusing a luxury premium iconic jewelry brand, with a famous sneaker silhouette. This collaboration resulted in a complete collision of two worlds. You get the classic chunky AF1 silhouette, and pops of Tiffany blue through the Nike Swoosh. Silver Tiffany stitching and a polished brand plate on the heel brought more vibe, it was certainly a shoe for a particular type of sneaker lover.

According to Andrew Lipp, EQL’s CEO: “This collab landed it. It embodies everything that a collab can do for brands. Nike brought the youthful energy and streetwear cred, Tiffany brought the timelessness and elegance, and they were smashed together in an intentional way.”

The Strategy Behind the Launch

Remember when we talked about creating buzz for a collab's to really land? That was definitely at play when it came to Nike x Tiffany & Co. They used a thoughtful strategy, combining online and in-store to make the launch a celebration. Buyers could grab their coveted shoes at Tiffany stores, adding to the real-life excitement.

Although this approach got fans pumped, there were concerns about potential chaos in stores. EQL stepped in to streamline the approach, making its silky smooth and fun for fans without any chaotic stampedes.

When Music Met Fashion: Beyonce x Balmain

Nominated by Jade Castro, PR at EQL

Beyonce x Balmain Collaboration Fashion
Photo credit: Balmain

Another collaboration that caught our attention this year was between music icon Beyonce and high-fashion powerhouse Balmain. This creative collaboration brought together music and fashion to send a message of empowerment. Beyonce's influence resonates throughout the couture collection, pushing creative boundaries and dripping with unapologetic grandeur.

The collab brought Bey's new album, Renaissance, to life — each design was inspired by a track on the record, allowing the Beyhive and a whole new genre of fans to engage with her music in a fresh way. The collection also just delivered some objectively incredible pieces, like a silver fringed mini dress with a matching cape, and a hammered metal bustier adorned with spikes for a look full of edge and rebellion.

Jade Castro, PR consultant for EQL, loved that the collection gave her a new way to connect with an artist she loves. “I get so excited by anything Beyonce does, and especially how she’s always pushing the envelope creatively and exploring new media. Translating an album into a fashion collection is just the kind of unique move I expect from her!”

Fan Reactions to the Collaboration

The collaboration between Beyonce and Balmain generated massive buzz and excitement in the fashion world. Fans embraced and celebrated this iconic collaboration, creating a frenzy on social media and beyond. The collaboration showcased the powerful influence of collaborations on fan culture and the impact they can have on fashion trends.

Triple the Hype: Marvel x Kith x ASICS 

Nominated by Mitchell Holder, VP of Marketing at EQL

X-Men x Kith x Asics winner pack
Photo credit: Marvel x Kith

Naturally, EQL’s VP of Marketing nominated a launch that generated buzz at every turn. This collab used numerous channels to drive fan interaction, dominated the sneaker airwaves for months, and capitalized on the passion of not two, but three different fandoms: The collaboration between Marvel x Kith x ASICS. All brand giants in their own right, this launch was bound to be a hit. But the real magic lies in how beautifully the energy around it was harnessed.

First teased at San Diego Comic-Con in July 2023, the collaboration featured an ASICS GEL-LYTE III sneaker in six different styles inspired by X-Men's most iconic characters: Beast, Cyclops, Gambit, Rogue, Storm, and Wolverine, along with a collectible trading card in one of five different colors. 

“The collab played to new fandoms in a really incredible way. They essentially bottled magic. The sneakers were dope, and the cards played to nostalgia. It dominated the Comic-Con event. People wanted to get all the sneakers and all the cards,” said Holder.

Results and Impact of the Collaboration

Each fan lucky enough to win received the product as a mystery box, not knowing which particular style of shoe or card awaited them. Kith’s CEO, Ronnie Fieg, used this to stir conversation and encourage fans to interact by trading boxes via X on this thread, resulting in more than 325K views. To fuel the flames, the brands released a breakdown showing the rarity of receiving each different combination. 

A Collab for the Gente: J Balvin x Air Jordan 3

Nominated by Claire Driscoll, Sr. Customer Success Manager at EQL

J Balvin x Nike Sneakers

Reggaeton lovers and sneakerheads rejoiced when ‘Mi Gente’ artist J Balvin first teamed up with Air Jordan — but 2023’s Air Jordan 3 might be the best release yet from this epic duo. The pair rocks sunset-gradient accents that J Balvin has said are inspired by his hometown of Medellín, Colombia. The result is a pair of sneakers that drip with style, even sporting J Balvin’s smiley face insignia on the back right shoe.

With their second feature on our list of top 2023 collabs, it’s clear that Nike knows how to pick powerhouse partners — their team efforts are rarely a miss.

For EQL’s Senior Customer Success Manager, Claire Driscoll, the success of this sneaker collab is about everything it evokes. “I love the colors, so at a glance, these sneakers just look cool. But even more than the style, I love the tie-in to Latin culture by an artist who is a regular in my Spotify lineup."

What Made this Collaboration Stand Out?

Now on its third release, J Balvin x Air Jordan obviously hit on something special with their partnership. So what keeps fans clamoring for more from this collaborative effort? One stand-out element is the legendary brand following that Nike’s Air Jordan line has built up from the beginning. The classic Jordan silhouette has maintained consistency as the pinnacle of streetwear culture across the decades, just as popular today as it was at its inception. 

Pair that with the stylings of an artist who’s become a cultural icon in his own right, and you’ve got a match that fans just can’t get enough of.

Affordable Hype: KAWS x Uniqlo

Nominated by Hashim Mufti, Software Engineer at EQL

KAWS x Uniqlo collaboration sweatshirt
Photo credit: KAWS

Brooklyn-based artist KAWS has long had a knack for capturing the imagination of fans with his darkly cartoonish style, reimagining icons of pop culture with a dystopian yet whimsical twist. His art has been featured everywhere from the world’s most prestigious cultural institutions to comic books, collectible figurines, skateboard decks, and apparel. 

He’s also pulled off plenty of successful collabs, teaming up with the likes of Supreme, Dior, Nike, and Comme des Garçons — and his latest drop with Japanese streetwear brand Uniqlo delivers all the same hallmarks of hype that a KAWS release has become known for. Released alongside a Phaidon art book, the collection includes t-shirts and sweatshirts emblazoned with some of KAWS’ most memorable characters.

But even more notable than the one-of-a-kind KAWS aesthetic? The collection’s pricetag. Staying true to Uniqlo’s commitment to affordable fashion, pieces ranged from just $25-$40.

Maximizing the Collab’s Impact

Often, sky-high pricing is a key part of what drives a launch’s exclusivity (which in turn pushes values even higher upon resale). So, how could Uniqlo balance the need to build buzz while still keeping its collection accessible to the average buyer? They paired the pieces with limited-edition collectible stickers and tote bags, and held in-store launches to build the communal enthusiasm.

It all came together perfectly for Hashim Mufti, software engineer at EQL, who said: “The clothing looks great, and I love the idea of affordable hype. Being part of the frenzy in the store was a lot of fun!”

Luxury Redefined: Cecilie Bahnsen x ASICS

Nominated by Lara Carlow, Sr. Customer Success Manager at EQL

Cecilie Bahnsen x Asics Sneaker Collaboration

Yet another high fashion x sneaker collaboration that the EQL team loved in 2023 is the recent collaboration with designer Cecilie Bahnsen and ASICS. In the collab, Cecilie nods to what she calls the “everyday couture” of Japanese culture. The team launched an exclusive pop-up in Tokyo in celebration of ASICS’ home base, along with Cecilie’s admiration of Japanese fashion. The pop-up also generated further buzz for the release, which was run via EQL. The sneakers use ASICS signature athletic-futuristic shaping and are available in two distinct colorways imbued with Cecilie’s distinct whimsical, feminine style.

Says Lara Carlow, Senior Customer Success Manager at EQL, “I love that these sneakers have a high fashion aesthetic while still looking practical and functional. They’re so pretty, and you can really see the Japanese influences.”

Bringing Home the Buzz

We love that Cecilie used this collaboration to pay respect to the Japanese culture that has continuously inspired her, and how she chose to represent this at her Tokyo pop-up. It gave the collection a sense of globe-spanning hype as the EQL-powered online launch expanded access to fans worldwide. And of course, it didn’t take a ticket to Tokyo or an army of bots to snag a pair — EQL’s Run Fair commitment ensured that the in-demand sneakers were equitably distributed to real fans only.

Driving Fans Wild: Mattel Hot Wheels x Ford Bronco Wildtrak

Nominated by Paul Heasley, Engineering Manager at EQL

Hot Wheels x Ford Bronco Collaboration blue
Photo credit: Mattel, Inc.

Just like Ford did when it revived the ever-popular Bronco model in 2021, Hot Wheels drove some serious buzz in 2023 by releasing their limited-edition, made-for-collectors Ford Bronco Wildtrak. 

The Mattel team recreated the vehicle in loving detail, down to removable doors and a removable top to ensure that collectors can enjoy the untamed, ready-for-adventure spirit of the Bronco. An iridescent Spectraflame aqua paint job on the body paired with black matte detailing brings extra touches of style to this must-have miniature.

For EQL’s engineering manager Paul Heasley, Hot Wheels aren’t just collectibles — they’re vehicles for nostalgia. “One of the perks of becoming a new dad (13 years ago!) was being allowed to buy Hot Wheels again! My son ended up with a great collection of muscle cars. I love the detail in this year’s Bronco Wildtrak, and the 1972 Skyline H/T 2000GT-R is an awesome-looking machine that took me on a long journey of researching classic Skylines and reminiscing about my old R32.”

A Collab with Collectible Appeal

The small stuff counts when it comes to collecting miniatures — and Mattel’s Hot Wheels Collectors line knows how to deliver the details that get every generation of fans excited. The Hot Wheels Bronco Wildtrak’s spec list reads just like the real thing, featuring everything from off-road tires to a stylish paint job for a model car that rings with authenticity.

Runners Up

It’s unanimous among the EQL team: 2023 was a hot year for collaborations, and we’re thankful for all the moments of delight that it’s brought us. While the seven collabs above got the most love from our team, in the spirit of the season of gratitude, we need to shout out a few more runners-up that caught our attention this year:

  • Rhode vs. Krispy Kreme: Launching a strawberry peptide lip treatment with a limited-edition strawberry glazed donut? We're here for it.
  • Jujutsu x Kaisen x Highground Drop 2: This keyboard collab sold out in like, 2 minutes. And the product was honestly just so fun.  
  • Charlotte Tilbury x Disney: We're a sucker for any launch that uses an animated short film to build hype. And this one was captivating.
  • Lilly Pulitzer x Target: Demand for the new collection of 250+ items ended up crashing Target's site. And with such lovely prints, we can see why.


Yes, 2023 was a great year for collabs, but what’s got us the most hype of all? Looking to the future. We’re expecting even bigger, buzzier, more envelope-pushing collabs to come in 2024, and we simply cannot wait. 

Looking back at which partnerships made the biggest splashes in 2023, we’re predicting that 2024 will deliver more collabs that surprise and delight us, more launches that creatively capitalize on fan enthusiasm, and more fearless intersections of unique fandoms. 

Want an exclusive sneak peek at the trends we’re tracking for 2024? Sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to receive a copy of our 2024 Trend Report, which breaks down the biggest things we’ve learned from successful launches in 2023 — and how brands can use it to drive even fiercer fandom in the new year.
Audrey Fairbrother
Sr. Content Marketing Manager

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