David Bowie’s song “Fashion” may have been released in 1980, but he sure had his eyes toward the future. Shortly thereafter, fashion and music merged in a way it never had before. You could give some (ok, a lot) of credit to MTV, a visual medium, where style became a major player in music culture. The video for the 1979 hit song “Video Killed the Radio Star“ debuted on the channel in 1981 – how fitting! Not only did fashion become another voice for artists in this way, the artists themselves also became influential on fashion – whether willing participants or not – see Run-D.M.C., Madonna and Nirvana…
You could also give a nod to the mid 80s television series “Miami Vice”; as the story goes, the then head of NBC television said he wanted a show about “MTV Cops” and voilà , Sonny Crockett’s look (apparently nicked from Duran Duran’s “Hungry like the Wolf” video), was born – and soon copied the world over.
So, let’s get out of the 80s and focus on how fashion and music are tied today. The most obvious – and often successful – story is music artists that have started popular fashion lines. Three immediately come to mind – Justin Bieber’s DREW HOUSE, Kanye West’s YEEZY and Diddy’s SEAN JOHN. More? How about Jessica Simpson’s HUGELY lucrative line, which crossed the 1 billion mark (yep, you read that right) and now includes 22 licenses for 31 product categories. Or Jay Z’s ROCAWEAR? Partnering with Damon Dash, they sold the brand to Iconix for $204 million, with Jay Z overseeing product development. Perhaps feeling he didn’t have enough to do, Jay later bought back some ROCAWEAR intellectual property from Iconix in 2019. And major props to Rihanna’s FENTY, whose partner is none other than LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. Just a reminder that a celebrity name isn’t always a sure thing. Adam Levine’s 222 line, Beyonce’s HOUSE OF DEREON and Justin Timberlake’s WILLIAM RAST, well, we hardly knew ya.
How about fashion designers who have actually been inspired by artists? Jean Paul Gaultier and Madonna had a thing going on in the 90s, with him creating all the costumes for Madonna’s Drowned, Re-Invention, Confessions and MDNA tours; she repaid the favor by walking for the designer as a model. You can’t forget Grace Jones collaboration with Azzedine Alaïa’s in the 80s or Gucci’s with Bowie. Betsey Johnson coined Nicki Minaj her new muse after Nicki said, “I remember I was living in Queens and couldn’t afford Betsey, and I would window-shop outside her store.” Or the perhaps critically loathed high-end grunge looks from Marc Jacobs for Perry Ellis which graced the runways in 1993.
Musicians have also been known to walk the runway too: Debbie Harry for Vin + Omi, Shawn Mendes for Emporio Armani, Diana Ross for Dennis Basso, Miley Cyrius for Jeremy Scott, Rita Ora for DKNY, Lady Gaga for Theirry Mugler & Marc Jacobs, Ice T for Rookie USA, Machine Gun Kelly for John Varvatos, the late Lil Peep for Marcelo Burlon and on and on and on.
So now that we’ve established how tight music and fashion really are, it makes sense that when you go into a clothing store, you hear music, right? Sure there’s “Girls on Film,” and “Vogue,” but what about YOUR music? What if you could submit songs directly to music curators and top tastemakers globally? Well, you can. If you are interested in potentially getting air time on a retail playlist for a designer store, on a soundtrack for a fashion show, or a branded playlist – check it out… With Play MPE, indie labels, artists and promoters can send music with the leading global music promotion distribution tool, Caster. This is the same tool major labels and influential artists use!
So throw on your favourite DREW hoodie and those fresh Run-D.M.C. Adidas and get to work!
By contributing writer Katy Krassner.