Friday, 20 January 2017

Popstars! Sell Show Merch Instead of Creating a Clothing Line

Based on the patterns of several artists, it seems as if there is some unspoken rule that these entertainers have to launch a clothing line at some point during their careers. These artists must believe they are the exception to the rule because most of these clothing lines do not last and prove to be poor investments. Artists like Sarkodie (Sark) and Yemi Alade (House of Tangerine) have ventured into the clothing business. Wizkid even expressed his interest in releasing a clothing line in a recent Vogue magazine interview. The brand is only as popular as the artist. Hence, if an artist has a decrease in popularity, gets wrapped up in scandal, loses a beef, undergoes a prison stint, etc., these factors can depreciate the value of the brand. Clothing lines by entertainers seem to be a thing of the past, whereas artist merchandise sold during shows seem to be the way of the future.
Inevitability can be a hard pill to swallow. It essentially implies move on, you have been replaced. The mp3 retired the cd player, the Blackberry’s popularity was replaced by the iPhone, and even Adidas seems to be taking the territory that Nike occupied as the urban it shoe and apparel brand. Desirability for artist clothing lines has lost steam for a few reasons.
Collaborative deals with big brands are less risky and more lucrative than artist clothing lines. Kanye West spearheaded this movement when he successfully collaborated with Nike and Louis Vuitton, respectively, for shoe deals. Since, Swizz Beats inked a similar deal with Reebok, Kanye West made the switch to Adidas, and Rihanna and Kylie Jenner found retail creative control with Puma. This alternative is more feasible because the celebrity can either discontinue or renew their contract whereas an artist clothing line is more perpetual. However, every pop act is not sought out by major retail companies to collaborate on a clothing line. With that being said, the most logical retail move for artists is to sell merch at their shows.
Direct Connection With Fans:
If artist merchandise is done right, it can be marketed as a collector’s item. Merch can be fashionable, but technically it is memorabilia. Fans have a strong incentive to purchase these items on the spot because the fans want to revel in that moment and be in unison with the artist. Fans also feel closer to the artist because he/she is within eyesight range. The personal connection to the artist is a huge selling point. On the other hand, pieces from a clothing line are sold in store or on a website by people who have no affiliation with artist.
Makes Financial Sense:
Artist merch is also more financially reasonable regarding an artist’s expenses. These items have a high likelihood of selling because they are impulse purchases whereas clothing line garments are more premeditated. Additionally, production costs are lower and the merch is sold at a cheaper price in comparison to items of a clothing line. The proceeds reach the artist faster because it travels through less channels; the money goes from the cash box to the artist’s company.

Fashion Sense Not Required:
Although the idea of owning a clothing line may seem alluring, the reality of the matter is that artists typically are not fashion designers. Some contrarily, even have a horrible sense of fashion. Fashion design is an art and it takes a certain intellect and foresight to be able to know what others will want to wear. It is illusory to think fame alone can sell a brand. Time and time again, extremely popular entertainers have released clothing lines that eventually plummeted from lack of interest and support. Examples are Jennifer Lopez’ JLO, Snoop Dogg’s Snoop Dogg Clothing, Eminem’s Shady Ltd., and Wu-Tang’s Wu Wear, to name a few. Show merch is not marketed to the consumer as a fashion statement but more so a keepsake or memorabilia.

Requires Minimum Branding:
Another reason attributed to these clothing line failures is artists not having a knack for branding. Plenty are guilty of not wearing their own creations. That is branding 101! It would seem obvious that the owner and face of a clothing line would wear their own threads. Furthermore, artists seldom exhibit fashion shows, pop up shops, and other such promotional events to compliment their brands. As far as artist merch, minimum branding like the performer wearing one of the tees being sold at the show is enough to influence fans to purchase them. Fuse ODG’s T.I.N.A merch is an excellent example of properly marketed and packaged clothing. He wears it in his music videos, sells items on his website and at his shows, but does not market his merchandise as a clothing line.

Artists Can Focus on Being Artists:
In the case of artists venturing into the fashion world, sometimes it is best to simply stick to what you know. Everybody does not have the gift of being a jack of all trades. If an entertainer is focusing on how to perfect his/her craft in order to be at the top of the industry, then they should be too busy to oversee a fashion brand. A general rule of thumb is entertainers should just entertain. If fashion is a dire passion, hire a buddy to operate a fashion line or invest in a retail company. This will allow the artist to have input, yet still be a full time artist. The easier route of course would be to hire a vendor to sell show merchandise. The artist still gets to partake in fashion without all the hassle.


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