Last week, Topshop announced its upcoming design partnership with Beyoncé. Instead of the usual collaborations we see with designers, with celebrities designing a collection or putting their name on a brand’s products, Beyoncé and Topshop will be 50-50 partners in an athletic sportswear brand with retailer Parkwood Topshop Athletic Ltd. The collection itself is currently unnamed.
The line will reportedly include clothing, footwear and accessories for dance and fitness, but will be versatile enough to be worn as streetwear also. Topshop owner, Sir Philip Green, upon the announcement, was quick to distinguish the upcoming venture from conventional celebrity collaborations saying, “This is not a collaboration. This is about building a brand and building a business – a separate, proper business, with separate overheads and a separate office.
We have been looking at this category as fashion-inspired fitness develops, and know that this is right for our customers; Creating a partnership with Beyoncé, one of the most hard-working and talented people in the world, who spends many hours of her life dancing, rehearsing and training is a unique opportunity to develop this category. Being partners with Beyoncé and her team, who have the greatest creative energy and enthusiasm, is inspiring for all of the team at Topshop. We have much to achieve in just under a year, but we are all up for the challenge, and look forward to delivering athletic streetwear in an inventive and exciting way.”
But what is a conventional ‘celebrity collaboration’? And should they even exist at all? There have been countless examples over the past few years of models, singers or public figures going into fashion design by simply putting their name on a clothing line, with little, to no actual design input at all.
Being a fashion designer suggests having a passion for your craft, which has required hours, days, months and years of hard work and dedication. It suggests you studied the technical details of constructing a garment.
Many celebrities are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to design for huge brands, something which is neither easy to do, nor easy to come by for fashion students and upcoming designers trying to be successful in an oversaturated market.
Having a front row seat at a fashion show does not equal an understanding of garment construction, fit and form. Celebrity designers have no formal training, have not honed their craft nor seem to appreciate how difficult it is to build a name for yourself in the fashion design industry. Gaining a fashion degree is no easy feat; it requires the creative ability to create a piece of clothing from just an idea, it’s not something that can be bought or simply handed to. Just because you excel in one creative field, doesn’t mean you deserve opportunities fashion students would kill for.
In a hugely competitive industry, where becoming a designer amongst the already established elite is almost impossible, celebrity designers make a mockery of what a fashion designer is and belittles just how difficult it is to succeed as one.
Let’s hope the partnership between Beyoncé and Topshop is different.