The Power Of The Celebrity Collaboration

As the runways of New York Fashion Week flooded with the usual fashion houses like Chanel, Dior and Moschino, an unusual name was among the mix- the beloved grocery retailer Lidl. The low-priced German supermarket chain has collaborated with supermodel Heidi Klum to bring out a clothing collection aimed at any woman who wants to step out in style while on a budget. Clothing brands collaborating with celebrities is nothing new, although some often assume that there is little input from the celebrity themselves into the product and deliberate whether the whole campaign is merely a marketing scheme to roll in more profit.

Marketing scheme or not, celebrity collaborations have been around for a long time, with pretty much every brand dipping their toes in the endorsement of a celebrity at least once. Earlier in 2017, we saw the American artist Jeff Koons work with Louis Vuitton on an extraordinary collection of handbags, where famous works from Leonardo Da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh were used as bag designs. A delight for both handbag and art lovers alike, the collection blurred the lines of art and fashion and drew as much hate as it did love.

Another example of a celebrity collaboration is the Jenner sisters for Topshop. This is the penultimate celebrity collaboration- two of the world’s most envied and famous young women selling a line in a store which is based on the modern, style-obsessed woman. Based on the idea of a ‘California girl’, the one thing that the Jenner line and the Koons collaboration had in common is that they both reeled in profit for all parties involved.

This begs the question- are celebrity collaborations just a brand new term for celebrity endorsement? While the collections may rake in quick and generous profit, it can be disheartening if designers who put blood, sweat and tears into their work season after season, do not get nearly as much recognition. It seems unfair that someone who may know very little about style or trends sell out a line overnight because they teamed with a global brand and someone who truly understands fashion and its trends, spends years hustling to make a living. For those that don’t work in the industry, the solution is simple- putting their name on a product equals profit. For those that have spent years trying to build a name for themselves, this is a slap in the face. What happens when both elements are combined?

Slapping your name on a clothing line doesn’t make you a designer, especially when your creative input and the authenticity of ideas is questioned. That is until, you venture out on your own in to the storm, like Victoria Beckham did in 2008. As former WAG and Posh Spice, it took her years to be accepted by the fashion community as a true designer who took fashion as an art and not as an another way to get on the payroll. In a collaboration with Skype in 2014, Beckham claimed, “I was a Spice Girl married to a footballer, I was trying to do something that no one had really done before. I’ve always had to work hard for everything.”

Today, the self-titled brand and the more affordable sister brand Victoria, have won the coveted Designer Brand of the Year award at the British Fashion Awards and are estimated to be worth millions of pounds. Luckily for Beckham, her hard work and unwavering dedication to her brand, has finally paid off.

When it comes to collaborations within the fashion industry, there is one more side to explore- fashion houses working with big brands. Some examples are H&M launching lines with Balmain and Kenzo and Louis Vuitton releasing a line with Supreme. Those of us who don’t frequent Brown Thomas to snap up Balmain’s hottest pieces got the opportunity to invest in their H&M line. Collaborations like Koons x Vuitton or Supreme x Vuitton mean that only the filthy rich can afford to indulge in the coveted crosses between art and fashion. An interesting observation is that while some collaborations may mean that the majority of the public are able to go out and make purchases, others mean that the target audiences are even more restricted than ever before.

The beauty world doesn’t sleep on celebrity endorsements either. In the States, every Instagram-famous makeup brand collaborates with social media influencers regularly- Jaclyn Hill has released many palettes with Morphe Cosmetics and Jeffree Star has collaborated with close friend and Youtuber Manny Mua for several projects. Back home in Ireland, the Pippa O’Connor palette released by Blank Canvas Cosmetics remains to be their best-selling product of all time.

Both the fashion and beauty worlds love celebrity collaborations as it’s not only a quick solution for generating profit, but a quick fix for advertising the brand also. The words ‘exclusive’ and ‘limited edition’ make mouths water and are usually 15 minutes of fame in the industry- but making a mark as a designer is a challenge little are brave to face.

Gabija Gataveckaite

Image Credit: Evening Standard