Fashion and Music: Best Friend Goals?

fashion and music

By Melissa Wallace

Fashion and music are expressive channels to show who we are. It is interesting to find that you can connect how people dress to the type of music they are into. Both have an immense influence on each other and have become ways of showing creativity, individuality, artistry, ideologies, and even political beliefs.

Artistes have their influence transcending just their music and have started major style and fashion movements. Some artistes which have clearly influenced fashion include Madonna with her iconic cone bra by Jean Paul Gaultier, David Bowie whose androgyny has been a reference for quite some designers like Alexander McQueen and Dries Van Noten, Lady Gaga with her merging of avant-garde and pop art oozing her authenticity to herself.

In the black community, we find Bob Marley who made tracksuits stylish alongside his iconic M65 jacket which was initially attributed mainly to the military. Another artist who made military gear cool was Michael Jackson who started the trophy jacket trend in the ’80s. Michael Jackson, an undeniable fashion icon, also set the pace for how musicians can use accessories as an autograph with his staple fedora, aviator sunglasses, mask, one hand glove. Run DMC, an American hip hop group pushed the African American street style sporting Adidas. Andre 3000 though a rapper stepped out of the box and was found wearing suspenders and bow ties making them cool also influencing today’s rappers like Pharrell, Kid Cudi, etc. Diana Ross made big afro hair cool, not forgetting her glamour aura which screamed superstar. Donna Summer, dubbed Queen of Disco, also gave glamour with her sequins and fur coats. Lenny Kravitz, ASAP Rocky, Rihanna, Aaliyah, Kanye West, Lauryn Hill, Diana Ross, Grace Jones, Prince, Jimi Hendrix – all these artistes were not only iconic in their musical craft but also iconic when it came to style.

We also find collaborations like Beyoncé x Balmain (2018) where she collaborated with Olivier Rousteing for her entire wardrobe for her Coachella performance, Cardi B x Fashion Nova (2018), Drake x Nike (2020), where Drake collaborated with Nike for a Certified Lover Boy collection ahead of his potential album release. Other notable ones include ASAP Rocky and GUESS (2016), The Weeknd and Alexander Wang (2015), Chanel Pharell (2019), Teyana and Pretty Little Thing (2021), just to mention a few. We also see artistes start their fashion brands like Rihanna with Savage x Fenty,

Beyoncé with her activewear brand Ivy Park, Kanye West with Yeezy, Diddy with sportswear brand Sean John, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Jay Z with streetwear brand Rocawear, Pharrell with Billionaire Boys Club, among others.

Artistes sell more than music, they sell a lifestyle that their fans like to identify strongly with even if they find themselves miles away from them. We see fandoms like #beyhive #navy #barbz where it’s not just about their music but everything else they are connected with. Fashion labels realize that when a famous musician wears their clothing, shoe, and accessories, it gives much more traction.

Hence, musicians are often sponsored by brands to wear all sorts of clothing, accessories, sneakers, hats, and bags. A typical example for the books is how LL Cool J brought a huge boost to FUBU in a 1997 Gap ad by sneaking it in not only through his rap but wearing a snapback, which is said to be one of history’s biggest advertising coup.

In 2013, the towering lace boots and black tattoo rucksack from Rihanna’s collection with River Island sold out within hours of release. In 2013, Kanye West sold a plain white t-shirt for $120 which instantly sold out crashing the website in the process Also in September 2015, Rihanna’s first branded sneakers with Puma sold out in 35 minutes. In 2019, Drake’s Raptors gear with Real Sports Apparel was totally sold out. Cardi B’s Fashion Nova capsule collection made over $1,000,000 within 3 hours of its release. She also collaborated with Tom Ford in an exclusive lipstick colour that sold out within 2 days of its debut. Just recently, Nicki Minaj posted a picture on Instagram wearing electric pink crocs that eventually broke the website temporarily and sold out except for two sizes.

Some classic statistics of how musical artistes increased fashion sales are tied to the hip hop community. In 2003, Reebok signed 50 Cent with his new line of G Unit sneakers; Jay Z was also signed and released the S Carter shoes. Reports show Reebok’s sales increased by 17% in 2004 and a double-digit percentage turnaround in sales which can be linked to these collaborations.

According to a report by a retail research firm NPD Group, from 2011 to 2015, Adidas’ share of the sneaker market dwindled. However, after collaborating with Kanye West they almost doubled their market share at 11.3% from 6.3% between May 2016 and April 2017. Signing Kanye West and Pharell Williams led to a spike in their sales generating a gross income of $21.92 billion.

Some classic statistics of how musical artistes increased fashion sales are tied to the hip hop community. In 2003, Reebok signed 50 Cent with his new line of G Unit sneakers; Jay Z was also signed and released the S Carter shoes. Reports show Reebok’s sales increased by 17% in 2004 and a double-digit percentage turnaround in sales which can be linked to these collaborations.

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We see a similar trajectory with Rihanna in December 2014, when Puma signed her to an endorsement deal making her the women’s creative director. The Fenty Creeper was announced and sales went up by 16.4%.

In 2016, Drake released a video for his mega hit Hotline Bling which went viral with memes where he wore a red puffy jacket form the Italian brand, Moncler. A spokesman from the brand reported that the website sold more than double the number of jackets it usually does. In 2017, when Cardi B released Bodak Yellow, she name tagged Christian Louboutin in the verse “these expensive, these is red bottoms, these is bloody shoes.” This according to data reports, generated a $4.5 million media value for the brand plus a 217% increase in online searches from June to November.

We cannot deny this strong connection between fashion and music; and how they can leverage on each other for growth. Fashion brands can leverage on this close knit relationship by featuring artistes on their advertisement campaigns. They can also collaborate with these artistes on the products itself that they offer. Fashion brands must realize that certain looks musicians pull in their music videos and on stage end up becoming timeless fashion statements which are embedded in the fashion culture. Musical artistes should be open to these collaborations as they are influencers in their own right and are selling an aesthetic. In this regard, some fashion collections have paid ode to certain musical artistes. We find this in Marc Jacobs inspired by Kurt Cobain’s grunge style in his 1992 NYFW show including jeans, flannel, and oversized shirts. Also, Balmain’s SS09 collection, paying homage to Michael Jackson’s style including his glitz and glamour.

The relationship between fashion and music is one that cannot be severed and is super influential to both parties.

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