In the past year, we’ve seen a surge of celebrity and influencer-led fashion lines, with the likes of Kendall Jenner’s fashion line, Kylie Jenner’s makeup and products line, and now, FKA Twigs and Robert Pattinson’s fashion house making waves in the industry. What do these designers have in common? They’re all associated with famous actors or musicians, which gives them a leg up in the crowded marketplace.
FKA Twigs and RPattz aren’t the first to found a fashion house, and they likely won’t be the last. The question is, how did they pull this off? How did a 24-year-old singer/songwriter become a fashion designer in just a few years’ time?
The answer lies in her early life. Twigs grew up in Hackney, where she developed an interest in fashion at a very young age. The London-born singer/songwriter attended the famous BRIT School, and then the London College of Fashion, where she studied fashion design and business management. While at college, she worked part-time for an online fashion retailer.
After graduating, Twigs found employment with a popular high street fashion store. It was here that she began to build her brand. She eventually left the company to pursue music full-time, and in 2018, she released her debut album, “Shooting Star,” which entered the Top 10 of the UK Albums Chart upon its release. Since then, Twigs has been featured in some of the biggest magazines and newspapers in the UK, including The Sun, The Times, and The Financial Times. In 2020, she became the first British female solo artist in nearly 20 years to have a #1 album and #1 single in the country.
Pattinson, the star of the upcoming film “Twilight,” met Twigs while filming the fantasy epic in London in 2016. After reportedly falling in love with her on set, he eventually took the step to formally propose. The 41-year-old actor reportedly invested heavily in the couple’s engagement and wedding in 2020, splashing out nearly £500,000 on a lavish party for 100 guests and another £350,000 on the wedding cake. The ceremony, which took place at the Twickenham St George’s Park Hotel in London, was officiated by a celebrity priest, and attended by friends and family from both sides of the pond. The newlyweds are now happily living together in a £5.7 million mansion in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The Influencer & Instagrammer Behind The Scenes Role
While Twigs was emerging as one of the biggest names in British Fashion and Music, a very different story was unfolding behind the scenes. Influencers and social media personalities rose to prominence in the 2010s, driving an increase in online content about fashion and lifestyle, which in turn, helped fuel the rise of celebrity-led fashion lines. Influencers are often known for their glamorous and celebrity-worthy lifestyles, which many fashion brands covet, and their considerable followings give them considerable power in the marketplace.
To date, TikTok is the largest social media platform, with over 500 million monthly active users. Many people use TikTok to share their everyday lives with their followers. Since most people use TikTok to follow entertainment and celebrity news, it’s a natural fit for brands to launch their own accounts. Influencers have used the platform to launch fashion lines, lifestyle blogs, and even food brands. In the past year alone, we’ve seen the rise of TikTok-branded fashion lines – such as, TikTok’s own Rose Beauty and Wellness line – and influencers-led makeup and beauty lines, such as, LASH-Cosmetics, and Bobbi Brown’s newly acquired BB Cream. So, while these accounts may not always be a reliable source of information, the audience they do have is definitely influential, and worth considering.
The founders of online shopping favorites, Boohoo.com, remember making the conscious decision to avoid influencers back in 2014. In an interview with Business Insider, they stated:
“We were totally against influencers when we first started the company. We didn’t want to be seen to be affiliated to anyone…We wanted to be seen as a standalone brand.”
They were certainly not alone in their distaste for influencers. In an interview with the Financial Times, Virgin Money’s head of marketing, Elle MacLeman said:
“[Influencers are] usually fairly thin-skinned, so I wouldn’t advise someone to go near them. They have an audience that would love to see you fail, and they’ll do everything they can to make sure you don’t succeed.”
The Crowded Marketplace
Fashion design is a competitive industry, and with every new celebrity fashion line, there are always several other brands trying to steal the limelight. It’s a crowded marketplace, with no clear leaders or clear trailblazers. This competition is cut out for emerging designers, who need to stand out from the crowd in a crowded marketplace if they want to make a success of their brand.
According to data from the Fashion Industry, there were a record 2.9 million fashion and textile related jobs in 2020, and this is expected to grow to 4.1 million by 2025. Many of these jobs are low-skilled and low-paid, with only around 10% of jobs in the industry paying over £50,000 per year. It’s a lucrative industry, with some of the biggest names in the business earning hundreds of thousands of pounds per month, however, the majority of income is generated from freelance work and part-time jobs, with only 20% of jobs providing a full-time income. It’s a far cry from the glamorous lifestyle many people associate with fashion, and the industry is certainly not for the faint-hearted. If you want to make a success of your fashion brand, you’ll need to get creative, and make the most of your opportunities, while they last.