Beyonce is teaming up with Britain’s Topshop—beloved on both sides of the pond for its incredibly fast copies of catwalk fashions—to produce a line of athletic streetwear. “I have always loved Topshop for its fashion credentials and forward thinking,” the singer and fashion icon said. “Working with its development team to create and produce a technical and fashion-led collection is exciting and I’m looking forward to participating in all aspects of this partnership.”
Both Beyonce and Philip Green, the boss of Topshop’s parent company, emphasized the word “partnership” to indicate that their joint venture—each side owns 50% of Parkwood Topshop Athletic—is something more than the celebrity- and fashion-driven annual collections that other fast fashion brands have used to distinguish themselves. Sweden’s H&M has been a leader in this space—Karl Lagerfeld, Lanvin, and Isabel Marant are some of the names at the cutting edge of high fashion that have made one-off collections in recent years; Japan’s Uniqlo created a +J line with Jil Sander; and Topshop itself has a sporadic “Kate Moss for Topshop” collection. All of these have been monster hits from their brands.
Beyonce’s star power is a driver, but so is the choice to place the line within the growing category of clothes known as “soft dressing.” “We have been looking at this category as fashion-inspired fitness develops, and know that this is right in our customers’ heartland,” Green said. Beyonce seems to be mixing the best of two prevailing trends with her new line. On one hand, stylish clothes for sweating in, as pioneered by brands such as yoga-wear queen Lululemon; Gap’s CEO declared fitness-inspired wear as “the new denim” recently. And on the other, high-end streetwear as pioneered by niche designers such as Alexander Wang and beloved by the likes of Rihanna, Beyonce and her husband, the rapper Jay Z. Speaking of Wang, his new one-off collaboration with H&M launches imminently and features… athletic streetwear.
The last major business move from Beyonce’s Parkwood Entertainment, described at by its general manager as “a management, music, and production company that is owned and at the highest level operated by an artist,” was to drop her eponymous album last year with no advance warning. And that bold move didn’t do too badly. A Harvard Business School case study of the album launch suggested it was part of a trend of using “blockbuster” events to grab the public’s fickle attentions in a crowded music marketplace.
Let’s see if Beyonce can shake up the world of fast fashion just as much.