IN mid-August a 10-foot silver statue of a pop-culture icon stands at the junction of the Flatiron building under the H&M moniker. Uptown, west of Central Park the New York Public Library at Lincoln Centre prepares for one of the media centre point celebrity fashion shows of the city’s press week in early September. It’s safe to say that Brand Beckham has conquered America.
The modern icon of the successful and stylish celebrity couple, the duo have complimentary careers, multiple product lines and endorsements, and four kids to boot. Turned out to perfection, quiet in words but loud in merchandising, Victoria and David Beckham have become a market force to be reckoned with.
Their influence as mass market taste makers has recession-restrained shoppers buying into Beckham products at every price point from David’s underwear at H&M, dvb fragrances and eyewear, and Victoria’s coveted military colour-blocked pencil dresses.
With David's footballing career - the original integrity in Brand Beckham - nearing its end, like his wife post-Spice he is kicking his way into fashion. He says he wants to launch a full lounge and body wear line off the back of his H&M knickers. David’s long list of big brand endorsements with Armani, Samsung, and Coca-Cola to name a small few has proved the power of the male side of Brand Beckham. Could David eclipse Victoria in fashion?
America was the key move in banking on their celebrity. To become a US household name, is to create demand globally. Under the cunning tutelage of Simon Fuller, they have built a €200 million fortune, chiefly since David’s move to L.A. Galaxy football club in 2007. Victoria and David were swift off the mark to make nice in L.A. having a major stroke of luck on arrival – an instant friendship with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.
Their foothold was confirmed with a welcome party hosted by TomKat with Steven Spielberg, George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey in attendance. A string of star spangled double dates followed including the Cruises as regular fixtures next to Victoria at David’s Galaxy games.
The awkward weirdness of Tom and Katie’s relationship served to showcase the Beckhams as the couple Americans wanted to be – good-looking, stylish, family-oriented, financially successful and, of course, celebrity jet-setters.
Many think it is no co-incidence that David ended up in L.A. Victoria was committed to a fashion and merchandising from the early days of Gucci name-dropping in the Spice Girl’s movie. It is believed that she was the key player in David’s move to Madrid to give the couple a European prestige, and get away from the cynical fashion community London. At the time she was still considered Queen of the WAGs in a uniform of skinny jeans, hair extensions, high heels and fake-tan.
Slowly but surely Victoria morphed herself and her business ventures from glamorous jeans gal, to an über chic fashionista. Her beginnings as a catwalk cameo celebrity established her draw as a fashion celebrity, resulting in collaborations with Jay-Z’s Rocawear and Rock & Republic jeans. Soon afterward in 2006 dvb brand sunglasses, denim and fragrance lines were born.
After the California move, Victoria launched her high fashion line ‘ Victoria Beckham’ to New York in 2008 and aligned herself with modern sartorial masters Marc Jacobs, Roland Mouret and Karl Lagerfeld. Though a regular Vogue cover girl with now a second line, ‘Victoria, Victoria Beckham’, she still bears criticism for a lack of innovation, the credibility of her input in the design process, and that her clothing lines are just grand pageants of her taste – commercially viable vanity projects of sorts.
Learning the business on her way up the ladder, she has laid the foundations for a fashion career for her husband, whose time on the pitch is in its twilight years. Barely having to put pencil to sketch pad, David has launched a wildly successful underwear collaboration with H&M. A change of haircut, a new direction in tailoring, yet another tattoo – all are copied by male fans, straight and gay.
With the Swedish budget super brand he has set tills ringing and hearts and other body parts aflutter with sexy print ad campaigns and PR stunts including the silver statue making appearances in various US hubs, and projected images of the soccer star in his white smalls on the Cliffs of Dover.
A behind-the-scenes video of Beckham’s shoot for his ‘The Essence’ fragrance for men has just dropped on the internet, with just a few of his classic looks showcased. We are treated to suited and booted red carpet David, black shirted cocktail hour David, and hunk-ish-ly lounging on a classic Triumph motorbike in a t-shirt and worn jeans David.
Always with the same pouty scowl, Victoria smartly perpetuates her aesthetic on the public wearing her designs almost exclusively. She is not however the campaign-face of her brands. David’s ability to be the actual cover boy, designer and spokesman for a fashion brand – akin to Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein - could see him overtake his wife once he hangs up his boots. One can’t see Victoria complaining. She seems happy to doll herself up on a daily basis for the paparazzi and be considered to be the brains of the operation.
It is interesting how the tables have turned for the Beckhams and their ‘games night’ buddies, Cruise and Holmes. One-half of the divorce of the decade, Katie will be showing her line ‘Holmes & Yang’ for the first time at Lincoln Centre during New York Fashion Week. Although Holmes is without a doubt one of the most spoken about women on the planet next to Angelina and Jennifer, she could do with Victoria’s endorsement.
A wave of approval from Beckham would do wonders in the press for both designers. She herself benefitted from standing shoulder-to-shoulder, not with the Spice Girls, but with Alexander McQueen and Burberry on the runway at the London Olympics closing ceremony. Victoria hasn’t just learned about fabric, line and stitch; she is an expert on working the media, and indeed the celebrity enthralled public.
The level of public obsession with these two, and their commercial success as a bi-product, means that the only way is up Brand Beckham. Their ability to re-invent themselves could spell out a long life for the brand, once Victoria is savvy enough to stand aside if and when David’s time comes.
The only visible chink in the Beckham armour is the persistent rumours about David’s fidelity. Though he stated after the Rebecca Loos debacle in 2004, “I exist only for Victoria”, he is routinely linked with other women. This week rumours have emerged that he’d had an affair with Welch opera singer, Katherine Jenkins - which both parties rubbish.
A break in the relationship could translate to a shattered fairy-tale for the public who look up to them as a shining beacon of ‘having it all’. One thing is for sure, wife or no wife; David can sell underpants and aftershave.