By Matt Chappell
There’s no doubt that fashion and music are inseparable. From rockabilly to gothic, brit-pop to hip-hop – music has influenced fashion and vice versa. Artists seeking to stand out from the crowd frequently dress in distinctive ways, which their fans subsequently strive to recreate. Let’s take a look at just how closely linked fashion and music are linked.
Artists Endorsing Brands
The music industry is overcrowded and, whilst the endless variety of artists is certainly not a bad thing, it can be hard for some to stand out. One way of standing out is through developing a unique look or ‘peacocking’. Sometimes this can be through the musician wearing incongruent or vibrant clothes, other times it may be that an artist or group adopts a certain piece of clothing that ends up becoming part of their identity.
For example, hip-hop has been instrumental in creating new styles – and birthing entire industries as a result. Run-D.M.C. adopted a sports-casual look as a retort to the more glam-based hip-hop artists of the time, such as Grandmaster Flash. Their look featured tracksuits, sneakers and other sportswear, and they rapped about their love for Adidas shoes in their 1986 song My Adidas. As a direct response to the wild popularity this gained for Adidas, the brand offered them an endorsement deal – the first of its kind.
Closer to the present day, artists are still working with fashion brands to increase their own and the labels’ popularity. Pop icon, Rihanna, has collaborated with River Island and Stylist Adam Selman to create four individual collections. The collaborative effort probably had more benefit for River Island than it did Rihanna, but as a marker of her creative talent and business acumen, it shows that Rihanna is capable of much more than just making popular music. Maybe in the future we will see Rihanna launching her own label based on the experience she gained working with River Island. After all, many musicians are getting involved in the design game…
From Musician to Designer
It’s not uncommon for artists to have a heightened sense of style, since a large part of their overall image is visual – especially in this age of paparazzi shots and what-she-wore articles. As a result, it is no surprise that these artists want to share their vision with their fans by creating their own clothing lines. Many big names have created their own labels, although some see more success than others.
Gwen Stefani is one such artist that seems to have hit the nail on the head with her range, L.A.M.B. Hailing from a family of seamstresses, Stefani launched the range in 2004 as a result of being prompted by the New York stylist, Andrea Lieberman, who noticed her unique style – a result of hand making a lot of the clothes she performed in whilst in No Doubt.
The label has also seen significant longevity as it enters its 11th year of business and its popularity may have been buoyed by celebrities – such as Jessica Alba, Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez – regularly being spotted wearing the label. To further increase the reach of her clothing line, Stefani references it within her music, as in her 2004 song Harajuku Girls, from her album L.A.M.B. (Love, Angel, Music, Baby.)
Pharrell is another artist to make it big in the fashion industry, entering his second decade of business in 2013. His brand, Billionaire’s Boys Club is similar in spirit to Stefani’s in that it is a reflection of his own personal vision of fashion and he has also featured the brand in his music and videos, further exposing the brand to current and future fans.
A completely different way in which a brand can work with an artist is through in-store music. Elevator-style music is now a thing of the past, as brands seize the opportunity to reinforce their image through the music they play whilst customers shop. Not only this, but the publicity this can give to up-and-coming brands is significant, and can serve to help bolster their exposure to an audience.
Superdry is a great example of this being done well, as they have a central, curated SoundCloud channel on which they feature new artists. This SoundCloud channel is played in all of Superdry’s stores but can also be listened to for free at any time. Superdry’s global presence means that the tracks can be heard worldwide, by an incredibly diverse audience, which is a massive amount of potential exposure for any musicians featured on the channel.
A Brand New Sound
Music and fashion are incredibly important, not only for helping formulate pop culture but in helping individuals to express themselves. Their relationship is also unlikely to weaken, as history has shown us that music and fashion have only drawn closer together as time goes by.
The trends of ten years ago seem entirely different to today’s, and it’s hard to predict what styles and staples we’ll see in another ten years. One thing is for certain, music will certainly play a part in how we’ll look in the future.