Why does music influence fashion?

Music and fashion have a complex relationship.

Let’s talk about music first, for example, music videos. Videos have a whole mood and style, and some of them can become more iconic than the songs themselves. From George Michael’s super model-infused “Too Funky” to the seductive tone of Beyoncé’s “Yoncé” there are music videos that have started trends. 

Musicians are often sponsored by brands to wear all sorts of clothing, accessories, sneakers, hats, and bags. Brands and trends are often advertised by musicians. Other times celebrities are not paid, but when fans see a certain product worn by their favorite artist, they buy the same. As Justin Timberlake once stated “I think we all want to dress like rock stars”.

There have been plenty of musicians getting involved with fashion. From back in the days, just thinking of The Beatles or David Bowie fashion said as much about the artists as their song lyrics. Today, more and more singers are focusing on fashion.

Among the top tier of bestselling musicians of today, Rihanna is doing great since joining her brand Fenty with the conglomerate LVMH last year. The singer has $600 million fortune, making her the wealthiest female musician in the world. Most of that comes not from music but from Fenty Beauty.

The brand started with beauty products propelled by Rihanna’s fame and 81 million Instagram followers. Fenty Beauty has challenged and innovated in the beauty market by releasing 40 different shades of foundations, when before there was only a handful of colors. Since last May, Fenty expanded into a clothing house that makes high-end clothes, shoes, and accessories. The fashion line, just like the beauty line promotes inclusivity offering up to 14 different shapes and sizes. 

Early this year Beyoncé sold out her streetwear line Ivy Park, just in two days. The artist fueled the online conversation by calling the launch a “takeover”. Beyoncé made the collection for all genders, so the capsule is completely gender neutral. She modeled every single piece herself; and focused on elevating the product category by taking minimalist pictures with extreme attention to details.

Then, she gifted pieces from the collection to her celebrity friends, who highly publicized these on Instagram. She provided an exceptional experience for her friends (influencers) with a surprising and aesthetically pleasing product delivery (in a huge orange cart/box), and she made the unboxing a delight to watch. 

Essentially, these musicians worked with the low-cost marketing opportunity presented by social media. This approach works well for existing celebrities who can push their new products to their existing followers. The music industry can serve a promotional tool for fashion.

Creatives and marketers are fully aware of this and they maximize their sales by coordinating with the right music, right people that provide the right experience. When we dig deeper, we can see similarities between fashion and music. Both are business and art. They are commercial, but also expressive, eccentric, and they provide a sense of belonging.

We can observe that many people speak and also dress in relation to the music they listen to. There are even stereotypes regarding lifestyle, clothing, and music. “You know, he was born in 1989, he works in tech, dresses on-trend, and I’m sure he listens to hip-hop music.” We all have a friend who makes assumptions like that, and there are people who fit in the box.

Music can be an escape from reality, and fashion can create a reality, tailored to our tastes. Music and fashion both depict our expressions and viewpoints within our scope. We take them with us to restaurants, clubs, bars, to the gym, to work, and to social gatherings. The two are like statements that can express viewpoints, ideologies, artistry, creativity, and individuality.

To answer the question, “Why does music influence fashion?” Well, it’s not only music influencing fashion. Fashion influences music just as much. They influence each other because they are entangled in a continuous cycle; it is a kindred relationship where both mutually benefit from the other’s creativity.  Their synergy is timeless. They serve as indicators of society. Fashion is the mirror of what our society thinks, and music is the mirror of what our society feels.