Music has long been the passion area that brands have associated with to build their credibility among youth audiences and trendsetter consumers. Music and the lifestyles that surround it truly sculpt personal identity and help create or propel social movements. The immediate manifestation of music’s influence on personal identity building and social trends is its interdependence with fashion. Simply, a fan will dress like his or her idol, and the rebelliousness and honesty of the street influence what we see on runways. The relationship between music and fashion have evolved considerably over the last decade as musicians have launched their own fashion lines or fashion designers have deeply associated/immersed themselves in a specific music scene.
While I am not sure who was the first artist to launch a line, I am sure that the hip-hop and R&B community has played a huge and instrumental role. Pioneers such as Russell Simmons with his Phat Farm labels paved the way for other serial entrepreneurs like Puffy and Jay-Z. They, in-turn, have sparked the creative flairs of many others. Today we see many artists bring new marketing intelligence to their respective clothing launches by infusing attributes to their lines that are uniquely associated with them (their personal brand) which will help fend off potential competitors and reinforce the artist’s own image. A great example is the new clothing line by Macy Gray called Humps. The line is for plus size women only. This attribute is both directly associated with the look of Macy herself and the honesty (to proudly merchandise her weight) of the attribute will bring positive feelings towards the line and positive associations to the artist.
Designers too have been blurring the boundaries between music and fashion. As I mentioned above, each music genre has its own visual (fashion) identity. Designers who love a certain scene frequently dedicate their work to the look of that scene. The punk era immediately springs to mind with designers such as Vivienne Westwood. However, we can see this relationship very alive today. A quick look at the work from Wasted German Youth says it all. True to its name, Wasted German Youth is an underground fashion label with a hardcore, punk and electronic attitude. WGY’s T-shirts have become the new style icon of the electronic music scene. Nokia has leveraged this special relationship between designers and music by showcasing cutting-edge designs at this year’s Berlin Fashion Week by “music genre immersed designers” such as Wasted German Youth, +41, Surface2Air, and Cassette Playa. Nokia’s role in helping propel these designers onto the world fashion stage is excellent and very smart. We all know that cell-phones are more fashion accessories than functional tools. In that vain, customization is a critical ingredient for success. Add the fact that music is increasingly important in that customization process (ie. ringtones, mp3 listening capabilities, etc.) and that youth really help drive the popularity of mobile brands, then a strategy to get involved with street fashion brands makes a lot of sense.
To read more about Macy Gray’s new fashion line Humps go to: http://www.geffen.com/macygray/
To find out more about Nokia’s trends lab go to: http://www.nokiatrendslab.com/