By Catherine Lovering, Contributor
Fashion marketing was once the exclusive domain of supermodels. They appeared in glossy, glamorous spreads in print magazines, which the public consumed to look at the extraordinary designs. But in the age of digital marketing, fashion branding is largely tied to the people who promote the goods. Celebrity fashion pairings are not only common, but for many new and innovative designers, they are almost essential.
Celebrities offer brands something the supermodel of days past simply could not: a distribution channel through social media. If the celebrity has an established image as a style and culture icon, lending his or her name to a design house is lucrative and often wildly successful for both parties. In the world of celebrity-fashion collaboration, there are a few standouts who do it best.
It is the youngest members of the Kardashian clan, Kendall Jenner and her younger sister Kylie, who have turned the celebrity-fashion partnership into a marketing art form. People magazine reported that the siblings had the most fashion collaborations of any celebrities in 2015.
While Kendall is known for her runway modeling and being the face of Estee Lauder, she also sells her own line of lipstick. Kylie sells hair extensions and her famous lip kit. Fans are gobbling it up, as Kylie’s lip kit sold out twice online. Kendall and Kylie are known for their fashion marketing smarts, but also have the benefit of being part of a large family whose day-to-day lives are documented on social media and on television. Fans know who they are and trust their taste.
Rihanna’s collaboration with Puma started squarely within the shoemaker’s wheelhouse: with a line of footwear. Puma by Rihanna launched a successful sneaker called The Creeper, but the union of Puma and Rihanna did not stop there. The brand announced the singer would also back her own line of designer clothing. The partnership shows that celebrity-branded fashion sells. It also elevates the brand when a diva-like singer provides her stamp of approval. Notably, Rihanna also gets the infrastructure of the Puma brand, easing her transition into fashion design.
One partnership that started off as a joke quickly turned into a creative and lucrative new product offering from preppy brand J. Crew. Jimmy Fallon, comedian and host of The Tonight Show, featured a phone case/pocket square in a bit on his program. It was then sold in J. Crew’s retail locations and on its e-commerce site. Its success prompted Vogue to call it one of the 10 best fashion collaborations of 2015. It had broad-based appeal, as fashionistas, comedy fans and gift-buyers all opted to buy it.
A Pea in the Pod and Sapling Kids both joined forces with actress Jaime King in 2015 as the performer welcomed a new baby. Her lines of product benefited the brand and King, who branched out beyond her acting gigs on a successful new venture.
Fashion marketers are wise to use both celebrities with specific appeal whose audience is consistent with the designers’ brand. Fallon is not only funny; he is well-dressed on his nightly program, making him an ideal choice to sell a pocket square. New mom King is a great fit for marketers who want to appeal to parents. Celebrities bring the fans, brands bring the product and their own style, and fans reap the benefits of both.