Rocking Sustainability

A wide range of licensors have begun incorporating sustainable elements into their licensed products and collaborative collections—or are at least considering doing so—especially when it comes to fashion. Musicians represent one of the groups with a relatively long track record in this segment and, like other IP owners, their focus on sustainability has been on the rise.

A few representative examples of musician-fronted eco-friendly apparel initiatives:

  • Debbie Harry collaborated with sustainable design label Vin + Omi on a clothing collection, announced this past November, with the first drop consisting of two unisex t-shirts and a hoodie featuring the word hope. The garments used fabrics made of recycled plastic polyester and reclaimed cotton. The partners said at the launch that plans for the future included a full range of eco-friendly clothing. Harry, Blondie’s lead singer, has in the past debuted Vin + Omi pieces in her concerts, helped launch some of its charitable collections, and appeared on the runway for the brand.
  • Billie Eilish debuted an affordable and sustainable clothing collection at H&M early last year, highlighting oversized sweaters, t-shirts, joggers, and hoodies of the sort the singer is known for wearing. The pieces featured a black and cream color palette supplemented by Eilish’s signature lime green. The musician emphasizes eco-friendly practices in her personal life, concert tours, and promotional messaging.
  • Taylor Swift paired with her friend, fashion designer Stella McCartney, whose creations she has worn to awards shows and high-profile parties, for a collection of items such as airbrushed jackets, tie-dyed t-shirts, totes, sweats, and a reusable water bottle. All were connected to her album Lover, released in 2019 with a now-canceled tour originally set to take place throughout 2020. In addition to taking inspiration from the album, the pieces celebrated themes such as band t-shirts and vintage graffiti. As is the case with all McCartney collections, eco-friendly elements were at the forefront; a limited-edition bomber jacket was made from sustainable viscose and a handbag from faux leather, to name two examples. A New York pop-up supported the effort.
  • Harry Styles collaborated with Gucci and its creative director Alessandro Michele on an exclusive t-shirt to promote his album Fine Line. The two men are friends and Styles has worn a number of Michele’s pieces in public appearances, many of which have prompted discussion on social media and in the fashion and celebrity press. The singer also appears in ads supporting Gucci Men’s Tailoring. The shirt, made from sustainable materials, came with a digital copy of the album. A portion of proceeds went to the Global Fund for Women.

While musicians are certainly not the only celebrities, or other property types for that matter, to enter into sustainable fashion partnerships, they are often outspoken supporters of pro-environmental actions and policies, which lends some credibility to their eco-friendly product efforts. Meanwhile, thanks to long-term trends in the music industry—exacerbated by the short-term disruption of the COVID crisis, which has affected their business as much as any—they are also actively looking to capitalize on opportunities for the sale of merchandise. The key is to find a balance where they can create revenue streams from product initiatives while minimizing the impact of those efforts on the environment.

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