Brand collaborations aren’t new, but with gearmakers they're more popular than ever. One offers name recognition, the other premium retail positioning. Together they churn out an overpriced gimmick. That used to be the formula for product collaborations. (Burton Playboy snowboard, anyone?) But recently gear and tech firms, along with bespoke artisans, have broken the mold, teaming up to offer smart innovation and striking design. One example: a hand-forged pocketknife from Kaufmann Mercantile and Gene Wiseman.
The knife they produced was so popular, it sold out almost immediately, and a second run was necessary to meet demand. Like the other mashups shown here, it's proof that two is often much better than one.
1. Nike + Undercover Gyakusou
A running collection produced by a cult Japanese design house that's as much about meditation and nature as logging miles.
2. Tumi + Ducati
Seventies-inspired leathers and stainless steel combine in a distinctive line of travel goods, from shoulder bags to carry-ons.
3. Leica + Paul Smith
An intuitive, limited-release camera with Leica's superior optics and British designer Paul Smith's signature eye-popping palette.
4. Kaufmann Mercantile + Gene Wiseman
A hand-forged pocket-knife with vintage styling and an Excalibur-worthy blade.
"I looked at hundreds of knives and couldn't find the right combination of classic styling and modern materials," says Sebastian Kaufmann. So he decided to make a house-branded blade with Wiseman, a former horseshoe maker from Watts, Oklahoma. "He brought function and durability to my aesthetic vision," says Kaufmann.