Why musicians are the hottest names in fashion

When Beastie Boys founding member Mike Diamond created a men's apparel line with LA accessories designer Clare Vivier two years ago, he took a cue from French luxury travel bags and aimed it squarely at the modern nomad.

He met Vivier through mutual friends in LA, hit it off, and started plotting a suitable travel capsule. Now he designs men's sweatshirts with logos that say 'Vive La Resistance', T-shirts with a 'Bon Wknd' salute and 70s retro sport socks.

"I love Clare's simple and efficient aesthetic, but at the time she had not done much in the way of men's products so we started talking," he says.

The Mike D X Clare V range includes canvas totes, wallets, laptop cases, headphones, sunglasses sleeves and luggage tags aimed for the guy on the move who wants stylish minimalist pieces.

A new breed of designers

Music and fashion collaborations have long existed, but they're becoming the way of the fashion future, popular among collectors and music fans alike.

Pharrell Williams is the master of collaborating – from producing sneakers with Adidas and a range with G-Star to Kanye West's best-selling Yeezy Boosts phenomenon. Celebrity status has gone beyond chart success to creating street style must-haves.

A$AP Rocky put his stamp on Guess collections, Rihanna teams with Puma and Drake launched his own label, October's Very Own, four years ago.

Big business for some

These unions are hardly the land of the one-hit wonderment. It's a business model for musicians and pop stars to build an empire that keeps their name at the front of consumer minds.

Australian artist and musician Reg Mombassa (of Mental As Anything fame) has been dipping his toe in this industry long before it became an Instagram hashtag sensation. He was asked by Mambo founder Dare Jennings in 1984 to contribute art for the Aussie surf and skate apparel line.


Mombassa is best known for his surrealist inspired art – there's an Australian Jesus Hawaiian shirt as well as political and Australian larrikinism that comes through his designs.

"Dare liked the art I did for Mental as Anything and asked me on board. It definitely helped raise my profile because I was getting my images out to a bigger audience than an art gallery," he says.

For the art, not the fame

Where fashion and celebrities often join forces for maximum ego awareness, Mombassa is hardly about that.

"I have zero interest in fashion," he says. "But what Dare did was bring artists to the space, it was a platform for us to put our art on board shorts, T-shirts and the loud shirt. They're collectable now," says Mombassa.

Sydney '80s revivalists Client Liaison add to the fashion mood board by introducing a unisex capsule during MBFWA in Sydney last month. Monte Morgan and Harvey Miller make music together and now add fashion designers to their repertoire – even launching a music Expo in August to peddle their '80s threads.

"We are throwing ourselves in the deep end of fashion design but we're serious about it," says explains Miller.

"Music and fashion are inextricably linked. We are all about embracing the process – we've gone to China to meet with our manufacturers who also work with other big Australian fashion brands. We're about a limited run, but committed to the process. We also feel we bring something you don't see in the local fashion climate – a true celebration of what it means to an active wear Aussie with a thing for the 80s," adds collaborator Morgan.

An investment of passion

For other brands, associations come about because musicians are fans of the label. That was the case with rapper Travis Scott who turned up to a Ksubi store in LA with his Lamborghini when it first opened to purchase three pairs of jeans.

A year later and the Texan collaborated with the Australian brand for hyped capsule collection.

According to General Pants CEO Craig King, recruiting Travis Scott last October to work with Ksubi didn't take much effort.

"He was already a fan of the brand and we wanted to dress him for Coachella last year," says King.

"One thing led to another and the collaboration was born."

Ksubi X Travis Scott collection sold out online in just 24 hours and retailers worldwide were cleaned out in the first month. It certainly inspired King to reach out to other musicians for more of the same.   

"Collaborations give your brand a slightly different look and personality and have a different reach," explains King, who had originally asked A$AP Rocky, but he had signed and sealed a second season with Guess.

"It all ties into the world of social media where everyone is watching what you do and looking to see what's next," says King.

"I'm all about finding the next collaboration and making it work as well as it did with Travis."