The other day I was looking online at a pair of trainers way too cool for my 42 years but with the image of the hip musician wearing said shoes and my Spotify feed thumping in the background, all of the sudden those shoes were the answer to any wardrobe blahs. While it's hard to miss the impact musicians have had on fashion over the decades (and even more so on a commercial level in the past few years), I think we miss the more nuanced ways that music and musical artists affect our fashion purchasing decisions. A simple inspiring tune and a cool artist on my computer screen and I'm transformed from mum to wannabe-rock-chick.
My first memory of music and fashion being inextricably connected was when MTV first went live in 1981. From there everything changed and a day didn't go by when I didn't either pay homage to a look (Madonna in 'Lucky Star', Cyndi Lauper in 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun') or to a general fan-based obsession (... Duran Duran badges covering my denim jacket, handbag, etc).
But in reality it was more omnipresent than the obvious dressing up. Case-in-point was my first job as a sales associate at a Gap store in New Jersey. Music has always run through the Gap's veins and they put a lot of thought into a fortnightly playlist intended to put a skip into our step while encouraging enthusiastic purchases. I remember long shifts flying by to the sounds of the B-52s, New Order, Milli Vanilli and Paul Young. Music has been an important part of the Gap brand over the years; who can forget Alexa Ray Joel's 2013 beautiful 'Just The Way You Are' commercial or, a personal favourite, the Madonna/Missy Elliott collaboration of 2003... 'Where you get them jeans' one of the most classic lines in a jeans advert.
The fact is, if we actually look around, music is present in how we make purchases in many more ways than we realise.
I recently helped launch a site called fashionrocks.com with a focus on all things music and fashion (there will be a concert during New York Fashion Week this September). While it seemed natural that consumers would increasingly look for music event occasion dressing (big business these days... from Glastonbury to Coachella and everything in between) it's the long list of musical artists with clothing lines that comes as the biggest surprise. The days of wearing plastic bracelets like Madonna and mimicking her style has now moved on to buying clothing she's designed with her daughter.
The list of musicians with current or past fashion collaborations and individual lines is a long and varied one... From Kayne West and Jennifer Lopez to Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Madonna and Beyonce... the list goes on and on.
How do musicians get us to buy into their acumen as designers and stylists? How have they become, in many ways, more of mainstream fashion icons than actors or other celebrities? I think the answer has more to do with the hypnotic and magical nature of music to carry us away. Who doesn't want to be a rockstar? Dressing like one is the first step. But it goes even deeper to the music itself which can help us imagine any fashion choice as possible... even those funky trainers in no way appropriate for my feet.