Why the music and fashion industries are so closely linked.
There are many ways to express yourself. The art world equips us with tools to invoke our own emotions in others, but in recent history, two forms of art have been tied together extensively in a symbiotic form of expression - music and fashion. We tend to associate certain styles of music to certain styles in fashion. Music uses your hearing, and fashion strikes the eyes, and in the same way a music video helps to associate a song to a feeling or idea by combining these two senses, what a musician wears can associate them to the image they choose to represent. Musicians have always been style icons. Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent era, for example, screamed punk and embodied the images associated with rock in the 60’s and 70’s, boasting “rockstar” skinny jeans and leather biker jackets in every collection. Any fan of The Ramones will recognize where Slimane derived his influence.
The Ramones (npr.org) SLP F/W 2014 (lifeandtimes.com)
The modern influence of musicians in fashion extendeds beyond aesthetic influence and into direct influence. It takes the form of collaborations, sponsorships, ad campaigns, and even musicians walking in runway shows. In an era of social media and celebrity prioritization, the combination of music and fashion is an obvious business strategy. It creates an intersection in which the followings of musicians and fashion labels crossover and there is a mutual benefit. We, as consumers, begin to associate labels with musicians, like Travis Scott’s close association to Nike. In a heavily oversaturated fashion market, consumers look to musicians and celebrities for guidance - if your favorite musician is wearing Louis Vuitton, the brand gains some prestige to you.
Playboi Carti for LV S/S 2019 Travis Scott "Cactus Jack" Jordan 1
Collabs give musicians a chance to further their artistic expression. It takes their talent to a new playing field, and connects their fanbase even further to the universe they attempt to create with their music. It creates, however, separation and cliques among the industry. Brands like Nike, who claim superstars like Scott, also claim huge amounts of Scott’s fanbase. Lyrics like, “Nike boys we don’t do three stripes,” give off a hostile vibe towards Adidas, for example. Yet even the most bland of musician-fashion collabs bring music fans into the fashion world, and vice versa, creating a diverse new creative community.
While all of these strategies are designed to create competition, it’s important to remember that much of fashion is, at the end of the day, a business, and while artistic expression is at the core of all music and fashion, that alone does not pay the bills or expand the brand names. The use of musicians in fashion helps reach a broader audience, but as with any industry, consumers have choices. Fashionable consumers value individuality and creativity, which helps to keep the balance between business and artistic expression in the fashion industry at a somewhat healthy equilibrium.
That being said, who would buy a Saint Laurent x The Ramones collaboration?
- Alan Gelman