Brand Strategy Brand Partnerships Fashion

Tinder CMO shares plans to show up in the real world, starting with fashion line


By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

February 5, 2024 | 6 min read

Not content with over 3bn swipes a day, the marketing boss at the world’s biggest dating app is now looking to transform it into a lifestyle brand, with fashion her first move.

Female model dressed like a bride wearing a Chet Lo and Tinder top

Chet Lo x Tinder T-shirts / Tinder

Tinder has just launched its first fashion line, a collaboration with designer Chet Lo. The tie-up is part of a bigger strategy shift in the way the dating app shows up in the physical world, with brand partnerships a major part of its plans.

Chief marketing officer Melissa Hobley is behind the foray into fashion, having signed the deal with the Asian American designer who has dressed the likes of Zendaya, Doja Cat and Kylie Kardashian.

“Chet is it is one of those designers who is just having such a moment is in the zeitgeist, but also,” says Hobley. ”Equally important, though, is that Chet is very open and loud about his queerness and his experiences dating. When we started talking to him, it was such a good first date. He is dating and he’s on Tinder and that felt really special.”

The ‘Lovestruck Collection’ includes T-shirts with copy such as ‘No-one’s type’ and ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve’ alongside Lo’s trademark spike designs. “It was an amazing opportunity to bring to life these little insights into dating culture,” Hobley says.

Two models attached via a t-shirt

Hobley will be measuring the success of the partnership by tracking social sentiment and sales of the collection, while also using brand trackers to see if it changes perspectives of the brand.

The collaboration is a statement of intent from Tinder about its plans to play a more active role in culture. Hobley is eying up marketing opportunities that take Tinder beyond the digital world into the physical world, these initial T-shirts meaning users can literally own and wear a piece of Tinder.

“Tinder is having a moment where it wants to show up in all the ways it hasn’t before. And Gen Z wants to show up and express themselves and, obviously, fashion is the way that they’re doing that. So Tinder is thinking more creatively about those plays than we ever have before.”

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Tinder hasn’t historically done many collaborations, its previous brand tie-ups having been app-adjacent, such as with KFC, Lyft and Ford. Hobley says that there are more collaborations in the pipeline, but that she would be treading “carefully” in this new space.

She admits that, when finding brand partners, Tinder has a leg up simply by being the biggest dating app globally. With 3bn swipes a day, she says it’s “great to be in a place where you can be thoughtful about which partners come in.”

It’s imperative for any partnership that the brand supports Tinder’s values, its activism and shares its ambition to “elevate queer love,” she says. “If you aren’t supportive of who we want to stand up for then you’re not a good fit, so that does actually narrow down other brands that are out there. That’s the brands we’re prioritizing and getting excited about.”

The app is deliberately not going after the biggest brands for this new strategy. Regarding Chet Lo, she says: “To us, he is the biggest brand because we revere his creativity.” She adds that each partnership will be a “long-term endeavor” rather than a one-off.

Hobley, who is also behind Tinder’s new creative brand platform ‘It Starts with a Swipe,’ a bright, maximalist pink campaign that celebrates a diverse range of couples and which group chief exec Bernard Kim praised in an earnings call for helping Tinder achieve a 6% year-on-year revenue boost, adds: “Tinder is having a real moment, with new creative work out there that is working and resonating, and we can feel the momentum in the business.”

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