Currently Reading – Hijacking the Runway

I discovered the writings of Teri Agins years ago after picking up a copy of her 1999 book, The End of Fashion.  Subtitled How Marketing Changed the Clothing Business Forever, that book was a look at how fashion resources were being put more into selling clothes than in creating them.  In an interesting way the book foretold the rise of fast fashion.

Now Agins has tackled the issue of celebrity “designers”.  Starting with the incredible success of Jessica Simpson, Agins tells about the rise of the celebrity label, and how being a “brand” has become so important in the fashion business.

Not that celebrity labels are new.  In the 1930s many celebrities from Amelia Earhart to Shirley Temple had their names on clothes.  I have a 1940s dress with a Dorothy Lamour label, and the Gloria Swanson Forever Young label is quite commonly found today. In the 1960s model Twiggy had her name on a label.

But no time in fashion memory has the celebrity label been what it is today.  And it’s not just the labels.  Celebrities are usually featured on the covers of fashion and women’s magazines.  Celebrities are paid to sit in the most desirable seats in the trade shows otherwise known as fashion weeks. And what celebrity does not have his or her own fragrance?

Agins tells how some celebrities, like Simpson, have been wildly successful.  On the other hand, she examines why others, like Kayne West, have struggled.

So have fashion designers taken a back seat to the celebrity brands?  In many cases yes, but savvy designers like Michael Kors have taken a page from the celebrity manual and have built celebrity-like brands themselves.  Kors was able to do this through his appearances on Project Runway.  It can be argued that Kors is the Project Runway grand prize winner, with his brand going public in 2011 with a value of $3 billion.  It is currently worth around $20 billion.

This is my favorite kind of book – one that not only reveals certain things that might not be obvious to a casual observer of the fashion world, but that also gives the reader plenty of food for thought.


Filed under Currently Reading, Viewpoint

6 responses to “Currently Reading – Hijacking the Runway

  1. What a lot of “crap”!..all the way around!!!…the so called “celebs” are nothing more than paid for hype /agent / publicist fueled money mongers…come on!…Michael kors (just in example) loves the media ,attention…most of them play hard to get “celeb” branding…then pretend to be horrifed when they loose their own identity to the very same “celeb” they are complaining about—same day they are courting them out to dinner paying the same publicist to call in the media for a photo op for the next “rag” for print!!! COME ON…???!!! AND we”wonder” what has happened to fashion!!!!????!!!…better question-what has happened to REAL talent !???????????..,style…all we see is a girlfriend or other type of wanna-be talent ” – backed by huge money -“re-inventing”a famous legends work!…Bitter-NO ? – Just tired of hearing / reading all of the “crap”!


  2. Agin’s book The End of Fashion was a huge revelation for me. I’m certainly going to read this book! Thanks for the review.



    Ever since you suggested The Coat Route I respect your opinion on good reads, I will read this ! Happy New Year Liz!


  4. seweverythingblog

    I must put this on my must-read list. I’m kind of beginning to understand the real design talent’s dilemma – the celebs have an army of publicists behind them (probably ghost designers, too). Whereas the graduates of fashion design school have no such thing. Just an amateur fashion-lover’s opinion….


  5. Thank you so much for this! I loved “The End of Fashion” and will definitely check this one out!


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