Celebrity Clothing Lines, Are They Worth The Hype?

Alexa Chung for Madewell - Autumn 2010These days it seems that celebs want a hand in everything possible– whether that be music careers, acting, fragrance deals or the more popular arena; clothes designing. If offered it, most celebrities jump in feet first.


The list of stars who have attempted to launch their own clothing lines is endless (take Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Gwen Steffani and Nicole Richie as just a few examples), but very little have really stood out as impressive. After all, the phrase “actor turned fashion designer” always falls on my ears as a little pretentious.


The question is – are these celebrities truly involved in the design process? Do they influence the lines or is it purely just a way to promote their name/celeb status? Do labels see these ‘collaborations’ as a publicity tool by lending a famous face or name to their brand?


This September 22nd will see the launch of model-turned-presenter-turned-contributing editor at British Vogue (and my ultimate style crush) Alexa Chung’s second consecutive collection for US label Madewell. The first collection, launched in 2010, was met with praise by those in the industry and consuming public alike. Speaking to WWD at the time, Chung said,


Victoria by Victoria Beckham 2011

“I was being offered so many collaborations for a long time, but I held off. I thought it would be quite a ‘sellout’ thing to do…Madewell had a more organic approach. They seemed really interested in my ideas and it’s a brand that I really admire. Hopefully, the authenticity of this collaboration will be obvious.”


So it seems this guest designer spot wasn’t a fickle choice for the star. With a strong fashion background, the fact that the fashion-muse (with a Mulberry bag named after her no less) would be heavily involved in the design process isn’t hard to believe . Just looking at the collections, it’s obvious – the lines ooze with that Sixties-inspired, effortless style of Chung that we all know and love. Cue high-waisted shorts and Peter Pan collars a-plenty.

It must be said that models turning a hand to designing isn’t uncommon – think Kate Moss at Topshop and even Sienna Miller’s Twenty8Twelve – but when actors and musicians give it a go, can it work?


The most significant example of this for me is Victoria Beckham. In fact, for over a decade, Beckham has been better recognised as an international style icon, rather than a music artist. She has been hailed by those in the industry as a trend setter and has been involved with many labels. Victoria’s first collection, launched in 2008, was met by positive reviews with some calling it “beautiful”, “classy” and “desirable.” Concerning the idea of her being involved in fashion design, Beckham has been quoted;


“We are not just saying, ‘We are celebrities, put our name on it.’ I love to be involved with the whole process.”


Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen's 'Elizabeth + James' Fall 2010 collectionBeckham has also recently launched a new ultra-feminine collection, Victoria by Victoria Beckham, for 2011.


The most recent example of an actor giving fashion design a go is that of Twilight hunk Kellan Lutz. The model turned actor has just launched clothing line Abbot + Main at Nordstroms; a collection of ready-to-wear menswear inspired by Venice Beach.  Speaking to the LA Times, the star said: “I put in a lot of input now like I did in the beginning. We raided my closet to find out what type of shirts I usually wear and what kind of fabrics I like,”


Although Lutz will be modelling the line, he continued, “I didn’t just want to be the face of the campaign, but have it be my brand.” 


Alexa Chung for Madewell - Autumn 2011So it seems many of these celebs want to be ‘involved’ in the whole design process rather than purely lend their name. But with every actor, singer and model giving it a try these days (and some purely for the publicity) many of these celebrity crossover lines simply aren’t very good; see troubled star Lindsay Lohan amongst others. Though, there are some who have absolutely nailed it in my opinion and are definitely worth a look; most notably – Alexa Chung for Madewell, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Elizabeth & James and Sienna Miller’s Twenty8Twelve.


In today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, stars seem to be opening clothing lines here and launching fragrances there; but do we really want to dress and smell like them? Regardless, there’s no doubt that a celebrity’s name and face will help sell products. And with Kellan Lutz hinting in interviews that even heartthrob R.Pattz is interested in doing a line – will we soon see a wave of Rob look-alikes out and about on our streets? Watch this space…