It’s imperative for any successful pop or hip-hop artist to dabble with fashion. On the smaller scale, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, and Azealia Banks collaborated with MAC Cosmetics in recent years, and Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Beyonce are among the current top 40 talent with perfume lines. Going a step higher is Ke$ha, with a Casio watch collection. Successful side endeavors take the form of Jessica Simpson’s eponymous brand or Diddy’s Sean Jean. Most, on the other hand, fade away with passing trends. How many of you still own Electric Youth perfume?
So, while, these days, it’s natural for pop and hip-hop artists to branch out into clothing or accessories, what about the emerging EDM performer? Although DJs themselves have no discernible style, fashion is turning into the next branding method. Smaller-scale is Avicii’s advertising campaign for Ralph Lauren’s Denim & Supply; although the Swedish “Levels” producer is not designing clothing, he is appearing in the brand’s fall campaign and even released an exclusive remix of latest single “Silhouettes” in conjunction with the advertising campaign.
The next step up is Neffmau5, Deadmau5’s collaboration with Neff Headwear. Only, the designing aspect is reduced to mau5 ears on the Neff logo. “I love the street and snowboard scene,” Deadmau5 said to Billboard.com when the news broke. “The people involved are the people I see at my shows, so it made sense to hook up with a cool company like Neff to work on a collaboration. Plus it was easy to put ears on the Neff face for an instantly legit logo, right?”
But while Deadmau5 is flippant about his collaboration, Tiesto – with two fashion lines, in fact – is more serious. Over the summer, his limited-edition Guess collection, NYT LYF, was announced. The watch, a water resistant, ionic-plated gunmetal case with steel bracelet, made its appearance in August, and the clothing, an oddly-neutral selection of men’s and women’s skinny jeans with zipper details, graphic-printed T-shirts, and motorcycle leather or twill jackets, is scheduled for October. In the collection’s announcement, Paul Marciano, chief executive officer and creative director of Guess Inc., said: “There is no better choice in music today to represent the free-spirited, adventurous and sexy Guess lifestyle.”
Following this, Tiesto told Rolling Stone at the end of August: “It reflects a lot of elements around electronic music. A big part of the lifestyle is about looking sharp and dressing for the occasion. The line reflects that desire and is focused on the sorts of looks that I stand for.”
NYT LYF, however, is the Dutch DJ’s second foray into fashion. In late 2011, CLVB LIFE, essentially a line of printed T-shirts for men and women, launched. The designs, according to the brand website, are inspired by the places, people, cities, and club music aspects of Tiesto’s performance.
Compared to pop or hip-hop fashion collaborations, EDM DJs’ have a long way to go, although Tiesto can be given an A for effort. However, the transition from music to fashion can’t be smooth for the DJ. Unlike, say, Lady Gaga or even Taylor Swift, the performer behind the booth has no image; what Tiesto’s collections try to do but ultimately fall short in is create a visual replication of the sounds heard at the show.
Fashion extends far beyond a physical embodiment of sounds and culture; ultimately, it is sold to a consumer. In translating music to clothing, this is someone, likely a young adult, looking to mimic a pop star’s style, be it a Lady Gaga hair-bow or Nicki Minaj’s neon makeup. Tiesto’s clothing, particularly NYT LYF, inhabits a zone that’s irrelevant to the club-going buyer. Who, at Guess, seriously thought a twill motorcycle jacket – one too formal for the heat and neon of Electric Daisy Carnival but way too casual and punk for Pacha NYC – was a good idea for this collection?