Opinion | Photographer: Morgan O’ Donovan
As music fans, we’re subconsciously aware of every detail in which makes an artist an artist, including their style. We flip pages of magazines they’re featured in, hunt Tumblrs for streamed photos of their streetwear (hi Gwen) and search YouTube for videos to repeat while partaking in the previously listed. Frankly, we’re consumed with their existence which is why humble details like “what brands they’re wearing” is easily noted. Aside from our overwhelming ability to stalk (thanks social media), musicians are a cultural entity whose influence presides well with our favorite designers. We’ve witnessed alliances between the two industries in ways unseen, until now. If we are to acknowledge such, we must ask the question… do artists have the abilities to sell brands?
River Island recently announced their exclusive designer collaboration with Rihanna, whose mix of “high and low” has been deemed both edgy and culturally relevant. Established across Europe and Asia, River Island’s success stems from their ability to incorporate those catwalk trends into bargains. While the “high-lo” factor isn’t as huge in the U.S as it is overseas, bringing Ri Ri along for the ride may just boost that model. Seeking a way to break into the U.S. market and thrive, connecting with an artist who’s aesthetically what your brand represents could prove favorable. However, does she have the influence to directly drive company sales? Collaborative efforts often get a blurred etch when profits are the focus of the game. There’s going to be that massive hype and commentary about what she’s wearing, how she wore it and who she wore it with circulating your bookmarked favorites. But the question and real concern of the board members is did it drive income? That is the underlying bottom line in which brands and consumers alike seem to miss or misinterpret. If we are to play the game of markets and musicians, will the profits pan out?