Celebrity endorsements have always been an important part of brand marketing in the fashion industry. High profile celebrities being paid by fashion and beauty labels to associate themselves with brands is not a new phenomenon, but in recent years fashion houses have paid more than ever before to have influential stars such as Beyonce and Rihanna attend fashion shows and wear new designs. Rihanna, can reportedly receive up to $100,000 to attend a fashion show. Social media has also emerged as a key area for fashion houses to be actively involved. The fashion industry has embraced social media and the celebrity influence that occasionally comes with it. We’ve taken a look at how celebrities and social media have affected fashion trends and brands; for better or for worse.
It seems now more than ever it’s becoming vital for brands to be associated with the right celebrity in order to connect with their chosen market. In some cases fashion models have been kicked to the curb as top fashion houses opt for celebrity models and ambassadors. Madonna is the (airbrushed) face of Louis Vuitton, Victoria Beckham has followed in her husband’s footsteps appearing in the Armani Lingerie campaign, fresh out of jail Lindsay Lohan modeled for Fornarina and Harry Potter star, Emma Watson, became the face of the newest Burberry campaign giving much needed youthfulness and edginess to the classic British label. Successful celebrity endorsements can work wonders for a product such as Cheryl Cole’s endorsement for L’Oreal and even more controversial endorsements like Lily Allen as spokeswoman for Chanel’s spring/summer 2010 handbag collection. At first some were divided as to whether Allen’s heavy drinking, drug taking, party girl image would cheapen the Chanel brand however despite this seeming an odd choice initially the pairing succeeded in cleaning up Allen’s image and brought a fun element to the Chanel line for a younger audience.
The classic Chanel handbag was embraced by a whole new generation as a result of appearing on the arm of Lauren Conrad on MTV’s The Hills. The Chanel bag first appeared as part of the storyline when our heroine LC discusses what she wants for Christmas amongst her friends, her boyfriend Jason surprises her with the coveted Chanel handbag and from that day until her departure from the series the Chanel bag accompanies her to night clubs, to work and to numerous trendy coffee shops and restaurants. The popularity of the MTV show was partly due to the beautiful stars and cat fighting but mostly because viewers are intrigued to see just want to see what the stars are wearing and where the latest hotspots are. The Chanel bag has been established as a classic staple to an audience who have witnessed its versatility.
Fashion houses are engaging with ‘the hills generation’ through a variety of media, with online activity seeing a dramatic rise. In recent years we have witnessed an explosion in fashion blogs all across the globe, blogs of worldwide fame such as The Satorialist and Fashionista have earned recognition from Dolce & Gabbana, Burberry and leading publications such as Vogue. They’ve received front-row, international Fashion Week seats next to some of the most notable figures in the couture world. More humorous fashion blogs like GoFugYourself which follows celebrity fashion has recently covered Fashion week for New York Magazine. Closer to home, Irish blogs such as thesavvyshopper.ie and beaut.ie have thousands of readers and positioned themselves as influential voices in the Irish fashion and beauty market with beauty brands eager to have their products reviewed, favorably of course, on these blogs. Fashion and beauty brands send sample products, hold one-on-one blogger briefings and hold exclusive blogger seminars and events in an attempt to influence and gain favour with these websites. Twitter is another media that fashion brands are advertising through, celebrities like Nicole Richie can make $10,000 to tweet about a particular product. It was recently rumored that Kim Kardashian was paid $20,000 to tweet about a pair of Versace pants, nice work if you can get it!
Fashion houses have also embraced iPhone apps, Chanel shows its runway collections via an iPhone app as do Dolce & Gabbana, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci and Ralph Lauren. You can watch runway footage, mix music, buy clothing and in the case of Chanel spy on the models backstage at the runway shows via a camera hidden in a model’s hair!
Other iPhone apps like trendstop.com provide professional fashion trend forecasts, instant coverage from the fashion shows and daily catwalk trend analysis. Another, MyFendi is a virtual wardrobe that enables you to mix and match your own outfits, by adding an image of them, with the images of the Fendi products already present within the application. Lastly chicfeed.com brings together photos from the web’s top fashion blogs and puts them on one site, blogs/sites currently include; The Sartorialist, Face Hunter and Cherry Blossom Girl.
Fashion brands have always represented social class and self expression but perhaps now more than ever fashion labels have become embedded in customers psyche as a form of self-identity and association to social groups and trends. More and more high street fashion chains are turning to celebrity fashion lines as a way to bond themselves with popular trends, for example Taylor Momson for New Look, Kate Moss for Topshop and most recently Joss Stone for Nine West in the States. With this, the rise of social media, although slow to begin with has ensured that the fashion industry must stay current and interesting in order to hold weight and communicate with customers.