Saturday, 4 July 2009

Celebrity fashion fame: more than 15 minutes?

Earlier this week, Justin Timberlake's fashion label "William Rast" made its London debut, with a pop-up shop in Selfridges. Rumour has it that Mr Timberlake took time out of his busy schedule to personally brief employees as to how his William Rast brand is to be worn and marketed.

Never before have we seen so many celebrities branching out into fashion - whether through brand collaborations (think: Kanye West designing trainers for Louis Vuitton and the news that Mr West is working for Gap to learn the ropes as an insider before branching out on his own); or as stand alone fashion brands (think: Nelly's "Apple Bottom Jeans" or P.Diddy's "Sean John"). It seems that celebrities are not content at being known for what they do. Is this part of today's cultural need to be loved by all, or is it savvy enterprise, maximising on a ready-made brand?

JT's news came hot on the heels of the news that Jennifer Lopez's "Sweetface" brand is to be shelved. Fashionista wonders whether it is harder or easier for celebrity fashion brands to survive?

It must be easier for celebrities to break into the fashion market than for the unknown "start from scratch" designer. The celebrity will have the PR and advertising crew; the financial muscle; the (helpful or not) media attention; the ready-made brand and a fan base ready to buy into any off-shoot product of their icon.

But it must also be easier to crash and burn. Not wanting to sound cynical, Fashionista can't help but ask: what happens when the celebrity "du jour" has had his or her 15 minutes of fame? Can what may at one minute be a highly covetable brand become un-cool the next? Fashionista would like to hear what her readers think of the merits or otherwise of celebrity brands. Can the celebrities compete with the serious players in the fashion market or will they be no more than temporary pop-up shops in an industry where the long-leased premises are those that go the distance?