Why Fashion Thrives & Music Dies
Fashion and music are inseparable industries, joined at the hip and usually happy to be so. Designers make fabulous clothes for musicians (and concert T’s for their fans); fans emulate their idols, and their idols, in turn, try to capture fresh new trends from the street. It’s a thriving ecosystem – one that the Lear Center has studied in some detail – and it has spawned many a celebrity designer, from J.Lo, to Jay-Z, who have found a way to translate their fashion sensibilities into mass produced apparel.
We all know how troubled the music industry is – I promise not to bore you with the details – but a recent development demonstrates why the fashion industry continues to rake in the money while the music industry unravels. We’ve all watched as our favorite indie record stores were shuttered, and now we sit slack-jawed as the big guys – Tower Records and Virgin – close their most iconic stores. The most recent casualty is Tower Records on Broadway in New York. Long a hang-out for NYU students, the store’s demise is a clear sign of the failure of the industry to deal with digital technology and the copyright issues that have poisoned the relationship between consumers and corporate gatekeepers. Even more telling is the fact that the old Tower store is being replaced by a Steve & Barry’s – a place that once sold cheap concert T’s but now enlists celebrities like Venus Williams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amanda Bynes, Stephon Marbury and Laird Hamilton to hawk cheap fashion designs of their own making. Customers at the 264 Steve & Barry’s stores are generally aghast at the ultra-low prices (well below H&M, Wal-Mart, Old Navy, J. Crew and Forever 21) without sacrificing quality and with the extra sizzle of a brand-name celebrity endorsement. What thrifty fashionista could resist?