The recent surge in celebrity clothing lines and fashion collaborations is proving highly popular with today’s young consumers. Take, for example, the hoards of hysterical Yeezy fans who queued up outside a shop in Nottingham for up to four days to get their hands on Kanye’s latest designs earlier this year. Or, if you cast your minds back to 2007, you might recall the huge hype around Kate Moss’ collaboration with high street giant Topshop. More recently, Beyoncé teamed up with the same retailer to launch her highly acclaimed sportswear range Ivy Park. Clearly the customer base is there, but how is celebrity status linked to fashion designer credibility?
Undoubtedly, the rich and famous are hugely influential figures in terms of style, with their images frequenting thousands of our Instagram feeds on a daily basis. They’re often paid by brands to advertise merchandise on television or in sponsored social media posts, which makes perfect sense from a business perspective. But designing garments of clothing for the public is a whole new ball game. The majority of modern day fashion designers have spent years studying the craft at college or university and then worked hard trying to establish a name for themselves in the industry, which begs the question: why do the likes of Rihanna and Kanye West have this opportunity handed to them on a plate? Their level of involvement in the process is also rather questionable since they lack the experience that a team of professionals would have been exposed to.
To give credit where it’s due, Rihanna’s recent 2017 Fenty x PUMA show went down a storm with critics and according to the CEO of Puma, speaking to Vogue Magazine, the starlet was “very dedicated” to the collection and apparently picked every fabric used and approved every garment commissioned. RiRi claims that her Fenty line was inspired by her love of Japanese street culture and ’90s music and fashion, with her latest AW17 collection centred around the theme of different high school cliques. The show featured lots of bold statement pieces that one could easily imagine the style icon wearing herself.
Since being appointed Women’s Creative Director of Puma in 2014, the Bajan superstar’s fashion career seems to be going from strength to strength, but with friends in high places and people on hand to guide her every step of the way, this is hardly a surprise. She also has a big supporter in close friend and supermodel Cara Delevingne, who got the gig as brand ambassador for Puma in 2016 and was front row at her best friend’s latest show in Paris after collaborating with her on several fashion campaigns for the company. Some would argue that it’s great to see two strong women helping each other achieve their goals, while others may argue that this is an example of nepotism at its finest.
The same can be said of Kylie Jenner’s cosmetics line, which was received with a degree of scepticism by those who felt it was unjust for her to take sole credit for a finished product which was largely the result of a team of experts. It’s unlikely that the young entrepreneur would have been given such an opportunity if it weren’t for her celebrity status. However, we cannot be sure exactly how much input she had in the design and manufacturing of these products; and it cannot be denied that the Kylie Lip Kits have been extremely successful in terms of profitability which is likely due to the reality star’s own marketing campaign via her social media channels.
So do these celebrities receive unwarranted criticism despite working hard on such projects, or do they get more praise than they deserve for their endeavours? While it’s difficult to determine this for certain, the ‘who you know’ culture definitely seems to create an unfair disadvantage for the millennial designers fighting to break into the industry without the same access to such connections. It cannot, however, be denied that many of these stars are well known for setting trends and influencing their fan’s style choices, which spells success for the retailers teaming up with them. Perhaps the fashion and beauty industry is moving in a new direction where power and social influence is more important than the product itself. But is it just a trend or have celebrities changed the fashion game forever?
Words: Kate Dooley
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