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Forget Angelina Jolie and Kate Hudson, the tables have turned and many companies are now turning to fashion designers to help promote their products.
While consumer brands have been collaborating with the fashion world for some time on everything from limited edition products to packaging--the trend seems to have reached a tipping point. Many major global brands are now turning to fashion designers to simply act as endorsers and ambassadors in the same way that they have so long turned to actors and sports stars.
Take for instance co-founder of Marchesa Georgina Chapman. She may be best known for dressing Sandra Bullock for the Academy Awards and for her sculptural organza gowns but Range Rover turned to the designer to help launch its 2012 Range Rover Evoque. Kim McCulloug, Brand Vice President for Land Rover says that Chapman is the perfect addition to an “elite group of city shapers.” According to McCullough, New York is the number one market for Range Rovers and the company believes that its core customer is more influenced by the endorsement of a tastemaker like Chapman than just any actress.
Belvedere, who in the past has worked with celebrities like Vincent Gallo and Chelsea Handler recently sought out New York-based designer Zac Posen to help launch its newest flavor of vodka—Belvedere Bloody Mary. Posen hosted a series of events at the Le Caprice restaurants in New York and London and helped to design a special brunch menu for the restaurant meant to be paired with the new drink. The marketing around the collaboration emphasizes Posen’s New York roots and his star wattage in the fashion community.
No designer's mass brand endorsement is getting more attention than Karl Lagerfeld’s association with Magnum Ice Cream, the Unilever owned ice cream bar, which is making its US debut this month. Lagerfeld shot a series of short movies and a print campaign starring actress Rachel Bilson but the Chanel designer is still managing to steal the show. In fact, Lagerfeld was approached by the brand before Bilson.
Brian Manning, Vice President of Brand Building at Unilever says, “Karl Lagerfeld has inspired women to pursue the pleasures of fashion and life gracefully for decades. We intuitively knew he would carry that same mentality to the set. His creative vision brings the pleasure of enjoying Magnum ice cream to life in an inspirational, beautiful art form.” In other words, the company hopes the association with Lagerfeld will bring a luxury appeal to a product which will retail for $2.59 at places like Walmart and Safeway.
Of course, why this trend is a boon for designers, particularly those running upstart companies like Posen, is obvious. The influx of income is certainly a welcome supplement to the often unpredictable business of fashion. These endorsement deals also provide a welcome avenue for designers to reach a customer outside of their core base.