Music and fashion - Ever feel like you've been stitched up?

You might expect Avril Lavigne to have a fashion sideline – but Beth Ditto and Pete Doherty? It's all very wrong, says Gillian Orr

Saturday 22 October 2011 22:47

You're not anybody these days unless you have your own clothing line or collaboration. And plenty of celebrities do: actors, models, socialites and sports stars are all at it. But no-one loves to get involved with the fashion world more than musicians. Apparently, nothing screams "I've made it" quite like underwear emblazoned with your own name.

But recently there has been a disturbing trend of credible musicians going down this route. Just this week it was announced that one of the most acclaimed and exciting bands of the last few years, Animal Collective, have designed their own trainers. This is a band who sung in their hit "My Girls" that "I don't mean/ To seem like I care about material things/ Like our social status/ I just want/ Four walls and adobe slabs/ For my girls." And their own trainer range, evidently.

But they're certainly not the worst offenders. A number of musicians who you think would know better have had some questionable fashion flings. Whatever happened to the music? How can we take your broken-hearted compositions and musings on the futility of life seriously when you're posing for a photoshoot with a model clad in a shirt you "designed"?

Of course, it depends what type of musician you posture yourself to be – and getting away with a clothing line is very genre specific.

Most pop stars, by their very nature, are sell-outs. They were cooked up in an office somewhere, given songs, a look, even a personality. By being a commercial experiment, they already lack any real heart or integrity. Therefore no-one cares when the likes of Justin Timberlake (William Rast), Avril Lavigne (Abbey Dawn) and, erm, Hilary Duff (with surely the greatest named collaboration, Stuff by Hilary Duff) achieve success in the fashion world.

Rappers, too, love a clothing line. There's P. Diddy's vomit-inducing Sean John Clothing Inc, the lucrative Rocawear from Damon Dash and Jay-Z, Kanye West has Past Tell while Pharrell Williams purveys his Billionaire Boys Club. But due to the flashy nature of the hip-hop world, where money and success is everything, rappers positively benefit from such business acumen. It gives them added clout, alongside their obnoxious car and harem of ladies.

But what about the world of so-called "alternative" music? Surely rock and indie celebrates truth and credibility over money and appearance, and any ventures into the fashion world are somewhat incongruous, no?

However, in an interview last year, Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig, who has received a number of such offers, had this to say about musician/fashion collaborations: "Some people would probably say that it's a sign of a disgusting consumer society. The truth is, that identifying with a pair of sneakers that you find beautiful is really not that different from identifying with a Rembrandt painting or a Beatles song that you find beautiful. The people in the fashion world are as much artists as the people in the music business."

So, who is right? We take a look at some respected musicians' forays into fashion – and separate those who made it out with their artistic integrity intact from those who really sold out. Click here or on the image to launch our guide

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