Should fashion lean into music trends?

“Give you high fashion in a simple white tee; Give you these blues, it’s in my jeans,” Beyoncé sings on her latest album, Cowboy Carter, which has sparked a worldwide trend for Western-inspired fashion as much as it has a revival in country music.

Music has always had a huge influence on fashion, but as social media seems to make fleeting trends ever more apparent the impact of superstars such as Beyoncé has never been more apparent.

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour, which is still making its way around the world, has sparked a trend for cowboy boots and glittery outfits as fans attempt to recreate the singer’s onstage looks to wear to the event.

In February 2024, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) announced that Swift’s seven sold-out dates in Sydney and Melbourne had boosted retail spending ranging from clothing and accessories to dining out. Retail turnover in the country rose 0.3% that month with Swifties thanked for the result.

Ben Dorber, head of retail statistics at ABS explained: “Fashion and accessory retailers told us offerings of Taylor Swift-inspired outfits and related do-it-yourself accessories added to turnover. Looking past the temporary and one-off impact of the Taylor Swift concerts, underlying growth in retail turnover was up only 0.1% in trend terms. ”

In 2023, Parkwood Entertainment was named in Fast Company’s annual index of the most innovative organisations thanks to its production role on Beyoncé’s latest tour.

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More recently, US-based denim brand Levi Strauss & Co was given a boost from Beyoncé after she included a song titled Levii’s Jeans on her latest album.

Speaking on a call with investors in April 2024, Levi’s CEO Michelle Gass noted the influence of the singer. “I don’t think there’s any better evidence or proof point than having someone like Beyoncé, who is a culture shaper, to actually name a song after us.”

The same month, CBS reported that Levi’s stock had risen by 20% within days of the album’s launch.

GlobalData analyst Pippa Stephens told Just Style that music has had a huge influence on consumer fashion choices in recent years. “With artists like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift embarking on worldwide tours, consumers have been seeking new outfits to stand out at their concerts, driving spend within the apparel market.

“It has also given rise to new fashion trends, with Beyoncé’s country album increasing the popularity of items like cowboy boots, and the jewellery-swapping trend at Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour boosting demand for friendship bracelets.”

Stephens added that fashion brands will need to be quick if they want to make the most of the opportunity. “Retailers and brands must remain on top of these crazes in order to capitalise fully.”

In 2023 Beyoncé sparked a worldwide trend for silver and disco-themed outfits as fans dressed up to attend the Renaissance World Tour, which followed her 2022 album of the same name.

In August 2023, the trend intensified after the singer took to Instagram to ask those attending her tour between 23 August and 22 September to wear their “most fabulous silver fashions” in celebration of her birthday.

With silver hardly being an everyday staple for most, the request could have encouraged fans to purchase an item they were unlikely to wear again.

However, while some fans undoubtedly turned to fast fashion giants for their tour outfits, US-based news outlet TMZ reported that independent sellers on Etsy reported a huge increase in orders as consumers looked for handmade items tailored to the event.

But should superstars use their influence to steer their fans toward more sustainable options?

Business and human rights specialist Olivia Windham Stewart told Just Style: “Celebrities wield a tremendous amount of influence and, from a sustainability point of view, a lot of the trends around these celebrity-led fashion crazes are very disconcerting.”

Windham Stewart added that some celebrities are trying to do things differently and more sustainably, but warned these were still “a tiny minority”.

“If we could have more celebrities using their influence and leverage to promote more sustainable practices – on both the environmental and human rights side – it could be enormously valuable.”

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