In Harry Styles' new music video, “Treat People with Kindness,” Styles, along with English Actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge, appear wearing sequined Gucci vests paired with wide-legged pants. They dance and croon about second chances.  

Styles’ kitschy, campy video, just over 3 minutes long, caused a 425% spike in searches for sequins in the 24 hours post video release, according to Lyst, the global fashion shopping platform. Pageviews for white and wide-legged trousers jumped 40% for men and women, and demand for Gucci increased by 23% compared with the previous week. 

It was a pandemic fashion miracle. But it was no accident. 

Like most industries, the fashion show has taken a big hit since March 2020. The shows have gone on, albeit with socially distant seating, watchers from home, and tricky navigation through Twitch, the streaming platform favored by many of the brands. 

So instead of counting on the fashion shows to draw business, some brands are tiptoeing back into the music video space, and here, they’re having the success of their dreams.  

“As more and more artists partner up with fashion designers, music videos have become a powerful bridge between brands and consumers, often shining a light on these collaborations, and subsequently increasing the hype surrounding them,” says Morgane Le Caer, London-based data editor with Lyst.

The desire for escapism during the pandemic, paired with changes to the traditionally linear fashion landscape, has given designers a more creative way to present collections, explains Katherine Bailey, retail analyst with EDITED, a retail market intelligence company. 

“Consumers’ lives have centered almost solely around digital means for work, shopping, and socializing,” Bailey says. “Before, new music releases would often go straight onto a listener’s streaming platform and into a playlist without a second look.”

Today? Consumers have all the time in the world to watch and appreciate a full music video. And when they’re done, they can share the video, browse the designs and styles, and order the matching clothing directly to their homes. 

The ease with which consumers share videos across multiple social platforms will have a knock-on effect in widening the brand’s consumer demographic, helping the more traditional luxury brands engage with otherwise unreachable digital natives, Bailey says. 

It’s the perfect combination: Covid’s impact on fashion and social calendars, the overhaul in the way we consume fashion, and the consumers’ desire to find products that truly reflect their favorite artist’s personal styles, Le Caer says. All of this can be found in a music video. 

BTS’ music video in August, Dynamite, featured the popular boy band wearing Kangol hats, Timberland boots and Gucci vests, shirts, pants, suits and loafers with tons of pastel and retro colors. Following its release, searches for “muted pastel,” and “pastel” increased collectively by 53% week-over-week, Lyst found. Searches for Kangol hats spiked 128% and demand for Gucci pieces rose 75% compared with the previous week.

Music videos are garnering a drop culture, making them the ideal platform for upcoming brands and emerging designers, such as Marine Serre in Beyonce’s Black is King film, Bailey says.

Global searches for Marine Serre’s crescent moon print spiked 426% in the 48 hours the weekend following its release. The moon printed tops were amongst the most wanted pieces of the brand, with neutral, brown, and black being the most popular colors for shoppers. Searchers for Marine Serre were up 51% week after week, according to Lyst. 

“Music videos are becoming a huge shopping venue, where designers can showcase their clothing and appeal to their would-be buyers in a dynamic and flashy way,” says Joe Flanagan, founder of the blog 90s Fashion World. “They are much more appealing and influential than fashion runway shows because they offer glimpses of the clothing that leave audiences wanting more, while at the same time showing close-ups and different ensembles.” 

Plus, Flanagan says, every time you hear the song, chances are, you’ll think about the clothing.

But deciding whether a brand should be in a music video — and selecting a particular music video to feature a brand — is more difficult than it may appear to be.

Brands do well to align their principles with the artist, Bailey says. For example, Miley Cyrus, who has a rock-and-roll image and outspoken advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights, has aligned her with emerging accessories brands like Chrome Hearts, and designer Richard Quinn (featured in the recent Prisoner Midnight Sky video). 

The collaboration needs to be symbiotic. Music videos have become a powerful bridge between brands and consumers, often shining a light on these collaborations and subsequently increasing the hype surrounding them, Le Caer says. So the clothing brands also need to be in line with the video’s message. 

And while music videos are the ideal promotional platform for lesser-known brands, or those wishing to push their statement pieces, they must be willing to share the spotlight — which is how the music videos largely differ from fashion shows.

“The benefits of a fashion show or presentation are the one-dimensional focus on the brand and the ability to offer multiple looks,” Bailey says. “While more contemporary names may wish to engage an audience outside their target with music videos, others may prefer to preserve the more traditional idea of aspiration.” 

So while music videos appear to be the way to see and be seen at the moment, fashion shows are unlikely to completely disappear, Le Caer says. Still, it’s clear that the fashion show format that’s been used for the past few decades is slowly becoming obsolete. Will they eventually become more like music videos, TV shows, or even video games?

“For now, a hybrid version combining two or more formats seems to be the sweet spot that fashion houses are trying to hit,” Le Caer says.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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