Celebrities are no longer satisfied with just the one career.

From book deals to beauty products, we’re now used to seeing famous faces enjoy a wide range of extra pursuits.

Luckily for them, as our report on the Rise of Influencers explains, brands are becoming more interested in aligning themselves with influential figures in order to gain consumer trust.

In 2016, the celebrity fashion line is a win-win for both brands and influencers alike.

But when it comes to ‘designing’ clothes, how do we know the influencer or celebrity in question has any actual talent?

Is the product a genuine reflection of a flair for fashion. Or, merely a money-making ploy aimed at fans desperate to look like their idols?

Here is a little analysis of a few recent examples.

Ivy Park for Topshop

Now a brand in her own right, Beyoncé is not averse to lending her talents elsewhere.

Her latest side project is the Topshop collaboration Ivy Park – a 128-piece collection of athleisure-wear including hoodies, leggings, vests, caps and more.

How does it measure up?

Inspired by her own personal appreciation for workout clothes, Ivy Park is a typically ‘Beyoncé-esque’ brand.

Speaking to Elle magazine, she recently touched on the motivation behind the project.

True beauty is in the health of our minds, hearts and bodies. I know that when I feel physically strong, I am mentally strong and I wanted to create a brand that made other women feel the same way.

Despite this empowering message and lot of initial fanfare, Ivy Park has garnered criticism due to its lack of accessibility for women sized 18 and over - a sentiment seemingly at odds with a woman known for promoting a healthy body image.

In fairness, perhaps we can put this down to Topshop and its reputation for designing clothes for a particular size and shape.

The high street favourite is certainly no stranger to criticism on this topic, having recently angered women over this rather ill-judged-tweet about Adele.

Naturally, controversy surrounding Ivy Park has somewhat overshadowed the launch, and it does seem to be the focal point of most online reviews.

Like the athleisure trend itself, Ivy Park has a bit of a ‘love it or hate it’ feel.

Dedicated fans have naturally been desperate to get their hands on the collection, but for anyone ambivalent towards both Beyoncé and athleisure, it’s a little hard to get excited about a range of mostly black and grey workout gear.

That being said, in terms of targeting its core audience, Topshop certainly has got it spot on.

Yeezy for Adidas

Since parting ways with Nike, Kanye West has continued his foray into footwear with a collaboration with Adidas – the latest brand to snap up his line of ‘Yeezy’ sports shoes.

To most people, trainers are a fairly run of the mill purchase. But this is Kanye West we’re talking about - a man very much used to believing his own hype (and orchestrating it too).

And with the first line of Yeezy Boots selling out in 10 just minutes, there’s no denying that it has been one of the most anticipated collaborations in recent years.

Are the shoes really worth the price tag?

Despite retailing at £150 or $200, many fans have resorted to buying pairs on eBay with a mark-up of over four times the original price.

Naturally there has been frustration over the line’s limited availability, however if this was a deliberate move by Adidas, it appears to have been successful.

After a 20% decline in 2014, net sales for Adidas have since risen, with many people citing the Kanye-effect as a reason behind the brand’s boost.

Of course, like the man himself, this (and West’s foray into fashion) has drawn its fair share of criticism.

With an inflated ego as well as inflated prices, many have suggested that the quality of the product is not deserving of the amount of success it has created for Adidas.

While this is perhaps true, it’s important to remember that sportswear brands have been utilising the selling power of athletes for years. Is there really a difference between David Beckham and Kanye West promoting a shoe?

As Adidas have shrewdly shown, it all depends what kind of influence you’re more inclined to buy into.

Archive by Alexa for M&S

Alexa Chung is known for being a ‘style icon’. Since her days as a snarky C4 presenter she has risen in the best-dressed ranks, slowly establishing herself as one of those people who can make anything look cool.

But the question is - can she make Marks & Spencer cool?

M&S sure is counting on it. With year-on-year losses and a 2.7% decline in sales of its clothing and homeware in Q4, it looks like it’s make or break for new boss Steve Rowe.

From Alexa’s standpoint, despite the insistence of her “long-standing affection for Marks & Spencer", it does seem like she’s part of shoe-horned attempt to attract a younger audience.

Like most young women, she probably does have some kind of an affinity with the brand (if only for its underwear), but I highly doubt it is a store that’s on her every day radar.

In terms of the clothes, Alexa’s collection is not all that original, but oddly enough that has been a deliberate move.

Reinventing ‘key’ pieces from M&S’s past, she has curated a number of items inspired by former decades.

With 32,000 users registering interest beforehand and popular pieces like the ‘The Harry Blouse’ and ‘The Misty Dress’ selling out not long after launch, the collaboration has definitely attracted interest.

There has been positive feedback from some appreciating the reasonable prices and wearable trends, however, reviews have since been mixed, with many bemoaning the poor quality and lack of stock in stores.

Unlike Beyoncé’s collaboration, which was designed for an existing audience, Alexa’s might prove less successful simply because of its flash-in-the-pan status.

Sure, there might be a winter collection, and it might tempt a few teenagers into M&S while the collection is there, but I highly doubt it’ll instil any kind of brand affinity into their Topshop-loving hearts.

When it comes to fashion there’s no denying the power of the influencer, and yet, it doesn’t always mean guaranteed success.

For more on this topic, check out the Rise of Influencers report.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 17 May, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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