For DTC jewelry brand Aurate, which has had a number of high-profile collaborations this year, the secret to a good collaboration is all about finding the right balance between shared values and new audiences.
The brand’s most recent collaboration is with American luxury brand Halston. On Tuesday, the brands launched a collection of 12 pieces ranging in price from $150-$1,600. It marks the first time Halston has ever made jewelry. Aurate co-founder Sophie Kahn said Halston approached her and co-founder Bouchra Ezzahraoui to help ease Halston into the category.
Kahn said Aurate and Halston were a good fit because they had similar values — including a commitment to affordable luxury — but were different enough that they could both benefit from getting the attention of each other’s audience. Halston is a well-known and respected fashion brand that’s been around since 1970 and sells through wholesale channels, while Aurate is less than a decade old and primarily sells through its direct channels.
“In terms of business, Aurate is DTC, so every sale we make has to be on our website or in our store,” Kahn said. “From a marketing perspective, that means it’s important to keep growing the audience. For us, the main way is word-of-mouth. These kinds of partnerships are a great way to acquire new customers for free.”
Ezzahraoui said it’s difficult to put an exact number on the audience growth attributable to these collaborations. She considers them top-of-funnel moves that provide general brand awareness, rather than something more easily trackable like digital advertising. After a collaboration, Aurate sends out exit surveys to customers who have made purchases, asking how they heard about the brand. It’s too early to say how many new customers came from the Halston linkup.
That being said, Ezzahraoui did say that Aurate typically sees a large boost in its online following and social engagement when a partner with a big social media following posts about the brand. In November, when Aurate partnered with underwear brand Negative Underwear, the latter posted imagery and giveaways about the collab on its Instagram account, which has 100,000 followers. Halston has done the same to its 127,000 followers. When Aurate debuted its recurring partnership with Kerry Washington in November of last year, Ezzahraoui said Aurate saw its biggest single-day jump in new Instagram followers. It now has nearly 200,000 followers.
“We can also be very nimble with these partnerships,” Ezzahraoui said, adding that Aurate’s design process and existing partnerships with suppliers allow it to design and release new product quickly. “From start to finish, we can get a collaboration out on the market within two months.”
Kahn and Ezzahraoui declined to share specific growth numbers for Aurate, but they said the brand achieved profitability for the first time during the pandemic, thanks in part to its three successful collaborations with Kerry Washington, who is also an investor in the brand.
Kahn said the next step for the brand is putting the profits from this year toward physical retail. Aurate opened a store on Madison Avenue this month, after closing its two New York stores in the early days of the pandemic.