While whiskey and scotch had historically been consumed by an older, mostly male, demographic, in recent years the spirits have become more popular among a younger age group — and with women — thanks in part to labels teaming with brands and designers in the fashion world to broaden their reach.
Heritage scotch and whiskey labels such as The Macallan, Glenfiddich, Jameson, Glenmorangie and Johnnie Walker have embarked on a continuous slate of collaborations in the fashion world over the last few years, working with brands that align with their values and help them celebrate the craft that goes into their distillery processes.
“Fashion is the key pillar of lifestyle,” says Kenny Moore, vice president and head of spirit brands at Moët Hennessy U.S., which owns single malt scotch whisky label Glenmorangie. “Increasingly today’s consumers, they swim across different lifestyle verticals, whether it’s fashion, music, art or sports. Fashion is obviously an everyday part of our lives. Everybody has their own distinct style and that’s a nice parallel with our brand because we have a broad portfolio and we’re continually innovating.”
Glenmorangie’s most recent fashion collaboration was with Dominic Ciambrone, founder of The Shoe Surgeon, for a yearlong partnership that included a sneaker inspired by the heritage Scottish whisky brand. The orange sneakers paid homage to the scotch by featuring barley textured suede, copper detailing and gold plated tags featuring Glenmorangie’s Signet icon.
“From a DNA perspective, you look at Dominic and you look at our master distiller Bill [Lumsden] who is a pioneer and a maven in the industry, you’re looking at two people that really at their core impact the brands,” Moore continues. “The Shoe Surgeon and Glenmorangie are about innovation, about craftsmanship and it’s about being consumer-centric and delivering things that are on trend, but still anchored in history.”
These kinds of fashion collections have also been taken up by other labels, such as Jameson, which teamed with Dickies in June for a workwear-inspired apparel line that paid homage to both the whiskey label and fashion brand’s craftsmanship backgrounds.
The collection offered workwear pieces such as overalls, beanies, T-shirts, hoodies and more styles that fused both brands’ heritages. The collaboration was an instant hit with customers, with the collection’s Eisenhower jacket and flannel shirts selling out upon release. The Jameson x Dickies limited-edition bottle also sold out in half a day, causing the brands to restock the item.
For Jameson, Dickies felt like a natural partner because they both shared values in celebrating craftsmanship.
“[The collaboration] really enabled us to demonstrate to consumers the craft history and heritage behind the brand,” says Lynda Cody, the head of Jameson’s global culture team. “People probably know Jameson as an Irish whiskey, but they may not necessarily know a lot of the story of the brand or the history of the brand. This enabled us to really put our story to the front and center of the campaign with this idea of [being] crafted together.”
Scotch labels like The Macallan and Glenfiddich looked to fashion partners to team on bespoke spirits bottles, with the former teaming with Rhude designer Rhuigi Villaseñor on a scotch tasting set and the latter working with Mr Porter on a limited-edition custom scotch bottle.
“[Mr Porter] is very much about curating and being very much a lifestyle. Luxury lifestyle brands are a focus for us,” says Sophia Plummer, global brand manager of PR and partnerships at Glenfiddich. “The decision to order a single malt scotch whisky has similarities to what you choose to wear, the fashion you embrace and the kind of art and art exhibitions you choose to go and visit. I think it’s all connected. We saw Mr Porter as a representation of the type of Glenfiddich audience that we could speak to.”
In November, The Macallan embarked on its collaboration with Villaseñor as a way to further its commitment to sustainability while broadening its audience. Villaseñor co-created The Macallan Harmony Ritual Kit, which took inspiration from the label’s Intense Arabica scotch. The kit included the scotch bottle, two custom-designed glasses, a coffee press and two coffee cups. The Macallan and Villaseñor used sustainable processes and upcycled materials for the kit.
“Something that we’re really paying attention to and trying to move our position forward is making sure we’re doing the right thing for the planet, which of course the fashion industry has a big role to play in achieving these greater levels of sustainability,” says Jessica Tamilio, brand director of The Macallan. “This is all core to what we do at Macallan, so if those particular fashion brands share those values, then I think it’s a great foundation to build on a collaboration with like-minded audiences.”
At Johnnie Walker, the scotch label has used its fashion collaborations to expand its appeal to a female audience. The label has worked with designer Aurora James to create a collection supporting the nonprofit She Should Run, an organization that helps increase the number of women running for public office, and illustrator Monica Ahanonu, who created a warm-up kit for women’s soccer teams Angel City FC and Gotham FC.
“It’s people and organizations that are taking bold strides for progress,” says Sophie Kelly, senior vice president of whiskies at Diageo North America, which owns Johnnie Walker. “That is a really important part of the Johnnie Walker DNA. It’s about engaging diverse consumers with shared values across men and women to really move communities forward.”
The fashion collaborations have helped make these heritage scotch and whiskey labels more accessible, especially for newer and younger consumers who may be unfamiliar with the spirits. The labels have plans to continue partnering within the fashion space, with Jameson continuing its collaboration with Dickies and The Macallan gearing up for a partnership with Stella McCartney launching later this year. For the labels, they see an endless line of opportunities within the fashion world.
“We really want to reach individuals with various backgrounds, demographics and cultural perspectives and really widen the typical base that is associated with single malt scotch,” Tamilio of Macallan says. “By engaging with individuals who are into fashion or are trendsetters or connoisseurs of luxury, we know that they appreciate artistry and pay attention to the details. We find that both within the fashion world and The Macallan, so it’s a really wide range [of customers], but with the shared values of just that quality craftsmanship and artistry.”