With so many celebrity fashion lines out, you have to wonder their relevance in the apparel industry. What is their influence worldwide? Are celebrity fashion lines more likely to succeed because of the name attached and the immense exposure they possess?
Celebrity designers are not in any way a new phenomenon. As early as the 1930’s famous feminist and pilot Amelia Earhart was one of the first. She began designing a line of pilot clothes and eventually branched out to everyday clothes for “women who love activities”. These garments were sold in upscale stores all over America including Macy’s and Marshal Fields.
It may be easy to assume that big name celebrities have the power to influence the masses to purchase just about anything, including their personal fashion lines. When celebrities are seen wearing a specific trend or setting one of their own, fans are eager to follow. But what exactly is the formula to a successful celebrity fashion lines? What sets them apart where certain famous labels are able to thrive in the fashion world while others flounder? Some of the top celebrities that have tried their hand in the apparel industry and failed include: Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Jessica Parker and Avril Lavigne. While other celebs such as Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake and Nicole Richie seem to have figured out what their fans and consumers crave.
The top five grossing celebrities fashion lines ranked by annual sales starting lowest to highest include:
Sean Combs for Sean John
Jay-Z for Rocawear
Jessica Simpson for Jessica Simpson
Kimora Lee Simmons for Baby Phat
Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen for three successful lines Olsenboye, Elizabeth and James and The Row
over $1 billion dollars
One of the newest celebrities to try their hand in the fashion industry is Kanye West. He debuted his DW Kanye West line for Paris fashion Week October 2011. West stated that his main goal was to destroy the myth that celebrities cannot be designers. “The biggest conversation I hope I can end tonight is the whole ‘celebrity designer’ thing.” Kanye stated in a press conference. So far, his line is received with mixed reviews. Reports claiming his designs are a mixture of other famous designers past collections, jammed with ill-fitting unwearable garments. While others claim Kanye has impeccable taste and it shows in his collections. With one of the hottest celebrities at his side, Kim Kardashian, has been seen modeling his designs, giving Kanye more attention. Along with her help tweeting messages like “I just j’adore my shoes tonight” referring to Kanye’s Giuseppe Zanotti designer shoes priced at $6,000 dollars to her millions of fans. Exposure like this will get a celebrity a leg up on the competition, but for his line to succeed he’ll need more substance than that to keep him in the fickle fashion game.
With celebrity influences gaining more every day, will celebrity designers inevitably push big name labels to the side? The supermodel, once the staple of magazine covers have been replaced with big name celebrities that entice readers and drive sales, is this the fate of non-celebrity fashion designers? The ingredients to making a celebrity fashion line successful includes: quality pieces that make the consumer feel like a celebrity along with the capability of being able to wear their favorite idols clothes as if taken right from their personal closet. Of course having millions fans can’t hurt, but being sold a halfhearted design with a famous name sewn into the neck is not enough. A fashion trend is not the same as a collection and celebrities starting a line should never make the mistake of underestimating the consumer’s ability to decipher between the two.