It used to be that anything Tiffany & Co. touched turned to gold – sometimes quite literally. But the jeweller’s latest collaboration with sportswear giant Nike has many worried that the proliferation of their iconic shade of blue might be diluting their brand.
Tiffany Blue has a long history. The subtle shade, also known as robin egg blue or eggshell blue (as it resembles the colour of eggs laid by the American robin), was first used by Tiffany & Co. founder Charles Lewis Tiffany for the cover of the Blue Book, Tiffany’s annual collection of exquisitely handcrafted jewels, as Pantone explains.
Tiffany’s itself explains that while there is no definitive answer as to why Mr Tiffany chose this distinctive colour, some theorize that it was because of the popularity of turquoise in 19th-century jewellery. Whatever the case, the colour has become famous the world over – with Tiffany’s blue box shorthand for luxury, style and the romance of engagement rings.
Traditionally, Tiffany’s was reasonably sparing in its use of Tiffany Blue for its own products, typically saving it just for their boxes – but in recent years, they’ve not only started to use the colour a lot more themselves but have also penned numerous, high-profile collaborations with other brands utilising the hue, particularly since they were acquired by luxury conglomerate LVMH in 2021.
Fendi Baguette bags in Tiffany Blue leather, Daniel Arsham sculptures in the colour, Steiff teddy bears with Tiffany Blue feet, Mitchel & Ness NFL jerseys with Tiffany Blue accents, and who could forget the Patek Philippe Nautilus with a Tiffany Blue, Tiffany-stamped dial… And now we’ve got an entire capsule collection with Nike. More on that in a moment.
In short, Tiffany Blue is having a real moment – and other brands have noticed. Pastels have already been on trend for a while but eggshell blue has become particularly popular, no doubt fuelled by Tiffany’s boosting of the colour. While Tiffany Blue itself is a trademark and is codified by Pantone, other brands have been releasing products in incredibly similar light blue pastel shades.
It’s happening in the watch world, with brands like Audemars Piguet, Breitling and Rolex releasing watches with eggshell blue dials. Car manufacturers are getting in on it: Brabus is making G-Classes with Tiffany Blue interiors, and I defy you to tell me that the new BMW M2’s signature ‘Zandvoort Blue’ isn’t just Tiffany Blue by another name.
Even Thongs Australia has just released some flip-flops that poke fun at the Tiffany & Co. x Nike collaboration. Luxury pluggers, baby!
Speaking of that Nike collab, there’s a big problem with it: it’s pretty mid. And that’s a problem.
What’s the deal with the Tiffany & Co. x Nike collaboration?
So what does the collaboration actually contain? The highest-profile item in the collection is a collaborative take on the Nike Air Force 1. It’s officially called the Tiffany & Co. x Nike Air Force 1 Low 1837, with the latter number a reference to the year of Tiffany’s founding. The collaboration also celebrates the 40th anniversary of the iconic sneaker.
Crafted from black suede, it features Nike ‘Swooshes’ in Tiffany Blue, chunky laces, ‘Tiffany’ written in cursive on the tongue tag, and a sterling silver plate on the heel stamped with Tiffany’s classic hallmarks. Naturally, it comes in a Tiffany Blue box.
The price? US$400. That’s $290 more than the AF1 ’07, the most commonly available version of the sneaker. That’s a lot of money, but it’s still cheaper than buying a piece of Tiffany’s jewellery.
There’s also a black Tiffany & Co. x Nike varsity jacket with very subtle Tiffany Blue embroidering, which NBA star LeBron James was spotted rocking earlier this week along with the AF1 sneakers. He also wore his Tiffany Patek, to maximise the flex.
Other accessories included in the collaboration include a sterling silver toothbrush, sterling silver shoe horn, sterling silver sports whistle and an extra set of laces for the AF1s in Tiffany Blue with a co-brand lace tag.
Ignoring the ridiculousness of making a toothbrush out of sterling silver, it’s the highest profile part of the collection – the sneakers – that have really caused the most controversy.
I want to know who designed the Tiffany x Nike collab. There was so much potential there, and yet…— Joyce Philippe (@JoyceMeetsWorld) January 30, 2023
In short: fans don’t like them, and we tend to agree. As The Sydney Morning Herald puts it, Tiffany’s and Nike have “jumped the shark” and “many have been left wondering whether both brands should have left well alone”.
The consensus is that they’re a little underwhelming; that the two brands could have been much more daring with the sneaker’s design instead of just slapping Tiffany Blue on a Swoosh with a bit of silver and charging a hefty premium for the privilege.
Fans have expressed that they would have liked to see much more Tiffany Blue used in the sneaker’s design, or at the very least, white used as the base colour for the sneaker as opposed to black. The tongue tag has also been singled out as a bit lazy and cheap-looking, for example.
Some fans have even gone as far as using AI art programs to generate their own vision of what the Tiffany & Co. x Nike collaboration should have looked like (see below), which some fans are already calling “way better than the actual ones”.
It feels as if this Nike collaboration is a tipping point for Tiffany’s. It’s emblematic of the oversaturation of Tiffany Blue in fashion right now, and it might be the final nail in the coffin for the colour.
No doubt Tiffany’s will have no problem selling everything in the collection – that’s how these limited releases seem to go. But they should be concerned that fumbling the bag with high-profile collaborations like this might really damage the long-term perception of Tiffany Blue, as well as the wider Tiffany & Co. brand.
Penning so many collaborations in recent years is already a risky strategy in terms of brand dilution, but then when some of the collaborations don’t live up to expectations, and you’ve got other brands riding your coattails and making their own eggshell blue products (something Tiffany’s can’t really control), it feels like the once-unassailable Tiffany & Co. brand and its iconic colour is becoming uncool.
What’s the solution?
As we mentioned above, there’s not a lot Tiffany’s can do to stop other brands from using eggshell blue in their designs. Unless they straight-up use the official Tiffany Blue, it’s very hard to stop other brands from beating what’s increasingly feeling like a dead horse.
It already feels as if we’ve hit ‘peak pastel’ – or rather, peak Tiffany Blue. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Fashion is cyclical; that’s the nature of the beast. What Tiffany’s can do is stop feeding the flame and further watering down their brand.
In particular, they need to be more considerate about the brands they collaborate with and how they use their trademarks, such as Tiffany Blue. There’s a reason that under LVMH, they’ve been doing all these collabs: they’re trying to keep Tiffany’s relevant in the eyes of younger consumers, and take advantage of ‘hype culture’.
On paper, Nike is a good brand to collaborate with, as they’re incredibly socially relevant (and it provides consumers with a more affordable entry point into Tiffany’s ownership). But there’s no use collaborating with a brand like Nike if you’re going to undercook what comes out of it and dilute the desirability of Tiffany Blue.
If Tiffany’s does too many collabs – especially if they’re uninspired – young people will see right through it and get turned off. Tiffany’s will lose its aspirational status.
Our advice? They should use those new Nikes to tread carefully.
Everything you need to know about the Tiffany & Co. x Nike collaboration
Name: Tiffany & Co. x Nike Air Force 1 Low 1837
Colour: Black/Black/Tiffany Blue
Release Date: March 7th, 2023
Where To Buy: Nike SNKRS or select Tiffany & Co. boutiques