Sunday 22 October 2017

Why it's boomtime for Brand Beckham

With the former Spice Girl's fashion empire flying high, Laura Craik wonders just what is Victoria's secret

Like many people, I assumed that Victoria Beckham's fashion label would be a fad; a diversion after the Spice Girls; a dalliance while David kicked his ball around and she tried for Baby Four. Ha ha ha! Which only goes to show: never underestimate a woman who can fit into size six jeans.

Obviously, one must never underestimate a woman, period, but it takes a certain sort of stamina to remain slender into one's late thirties, and when deployed in the arena of business, this stamina can be impressive, and get results even against the odds, a fact I will ponder some more as I eat these Wotsits and the leftover sausages from dinner.

It's Bonpoint all round for baby Harper, as newly released figures show that sales of Victoria Beckham generated more than £15m in the first three months of this year, a 71% increase on last season, with turnover increasing from £1.3m to £2.8m.

In fact, to hell with Bonpoint, the must-have French label for well-heeled ladies: Mrs Beckham is probably commissioning Karl Lagerfeld to design a personalised monogrammed Babygro.

Even if we weren't in a recession, these figures would be impressive. When it comes to celebrities designing clothes, the atrocities committed to catwalk are well documented.

When Beckham launched her first collection three years ago there was much eye-rolling, even from the more neutral members of the fashion press. So what is Victoria doing right?

Undoubtedly, it was a clever move to start off small, with a tiny presentation in New York instead of a primetime catwalk show in Paris, like the maligned Kanye West.

In the fashion world, the right to appear arrogant must be earned.

By appearing humble, Beckham won over her detractors, slowly, by increments, talking through the details of every buttonhole until there was nothing much left to doubt.

But humility alone won't garner sales that sources claim are projected to top £50m this year.

Crucially, Beckham's collections achieved near-blanket positive reviews from the fashion press, as opposed to the drubbings meted out to some celebrity labels.

Even more crucially, she was perfectly placed to take advantage of that particularly potent genre of publicity that comes from being able to count on your A-list friends to take a turn in one of your dresses.

Katie Holmes, Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez were three such early adopters of Beckham's gowns, whose angular, body-conscious lines lent themselves perfectly to standing out on the red carpet.

Fast-forward to 2011, and such unlikely players as Elle Macpherson, Cheryl Cole and Carol Vorderman have come out on Team Beckham, though admittedly these are less surprising to those with a fine understanding of who holds the power in the entertainment industry.

And let's not forget Victoria herself, a woman whose every move is documented by the papers, and is the best advertisement of all.

She may divide opinion, but anyone doubting the adage that "all press is good press" need only look at another brand that posted staggering profits this week -- Christian Dior -- to be convinced.

In the same period that its designer John Galliano was accused and later convicted of making anti-Semitic comments, revenues at Dior increased by 21% to $705m (£614m) compared with the same period in 2010.

Whatever Victoria's crimes -- wearing high heels when pregnant, being married to a man you'll never get to shag -- they are less heinous than the one that many analysts were expecting to damage Dior.

Tucked behind the velvet curtain all the while is Simon Fuller, a man with some form in building stellar celebrity careers.

Victoria might be a good designer, but Fuller is the dark genius who has masterminded her ascension to the upper echelons of the fashion world with consummate ease.

Whatever Victoria does, the mighty XIX Entertainment has got her back, choreographing her every move with Nureyev-like precision.

It is worth remembering that, impressive as sales of Victoria 's mainline collection might be, they are but a tiny slice of the $200m (£125m) empire Fuller has built out of VB denim, sunglasses and perfume.

With the launch of her new, more affordable line early next year, Victoria could well be on course to give her husband's earning power a run for its money.

Brand Beckham? You ain't seen nothing yet.

Irish Independent

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