What’s in a name? The power of celebrity fashion endorsements

What makes certain celebrity endorsements a success while others end up in the bargain bin?

Stephen Manderson – AKA Professor Green – has a few words of advice for his fellow celebrities: “Know what you’re good at.”

The drug dealer-turned-rapper and reality-show star has many strings to his bow it seems, one of which is working with the sports brand Puma on his own apparel line.

Manderson’s second collection has just arrived in stores and encapsulates the street-cum-sportswear that goes hand in hand with so much urban music. “I don’t like anything too rigid,” Manderson says of his chosen aesthetic. But he could very well be referring to the labels that come with modern celebrity. “Designer” is increasingly a tag that musicians and actors wear proudly, as it seems everyone from Rihanna to John Malkovich (the former lending her name to River Island, the latter has his own label Technobohemian) is ready to sketch out a vision for their adoring fans.

So how do these projects come about? Does a brand approach a celebrity with a loyal fan base and hear the sound of tills ringing? Not always, it seems. “Over two years ago, a visitor to the APC studio was announced to me as ‘Kenny’,” says Jean Touitou, the founder of the French ready-to-wear brand, in what will no doubt be a tale that becomes fashion folklore. “He wanted my advice on the fashion industry; although I found the request quite vague, as a mutual friend introduced us I met with the guy. The guy talks and talks and I was having a good time listening. He had nice manners and spoke about… how difficult doing the right thing in fashion was.

“After a while, I was curious to know what this gentleman was currently doing in his life. I simply asked him: ‘May I know what your trade is, sir?’ He took his shades down, so that finally I could see his eyes, and answered me: ‘I am a hip-hop artist.’ At some point my crew informed me that his name was West, Kanye West.”

West’s collaboration with APC consists of eight pieces which sold out online on the day it went on sale. This is in stark contrast to West’s previous fashion venture a ready-to-wear collection that showed for two seasons as part of Paris Fashion Week and was largely lambasted  despite West’s supposed fashion credentials. Before his debut, the former editor of Vogue Paris Carine Roitfeld said: “I know very well Kanye and I know he’s very good in fashion. He knows everything about fashion. He could teach fashion.”

In Manderson’s case, the approach came from the brand: “Puma got in touch and I was like: ‘Well sportswear, I’m not very athletic how is this going to work?’ Back then the catch line was ‘the after-hours athlete’, which I can endorse fully. I approach [the design process] like I approach my music. It’s selfish. I pick what I like. Me and the designer sit down and he’s got mood boards and I’ve got references, things that I like from now and from the past and we just start putting our heads together and thrash things out.”

The success of celebrity lines has long depended on the strength of their own style – will it stand up to the distillation process? And will the result essentially be a tangible way for fans to get that bit closer to their idol? Rihanna’s collections for River Island are a case in point; Women’s Wear Daily encapsulated her latest collection thus: “The looks were all variations on things from her wardrobe.” The singer took legal action against a Topshop supplier after an image of her taken from a music video was used on a  T-shirt, so it’s fair to say that she, or somebody in her camp, understands the value of her endorsement.

“You can’t endorse every little thing,” Manderson says. “We say no to a lot more than we say yes to. One of the first branding opportunities I ever had was with Kappa – I said no to that one. If I put my name to something then that’s representative of my entire brand; if I do something I want to do it properly.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Account Manager (Junior)

    Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

    Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

    Lead IOs Andriod Developer

    £80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Applic...

    Accountant,Reconciliations,Bristol,Bank,£260/day

    £200 - £260 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Accountant, Reconciliations, Bristo...

    Day In a Page

    A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

    A new Russian revolution

    Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
    Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

    The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
    Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

    Standing my ground

    If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

    Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
    Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

    Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

    The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
    The man who dared to go on holiday

    The man who dared to go on holiday

    New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

    The Guest List 2014

    Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

    Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

    Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

    Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

    The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried