Growing from one weekend to two presented Southern California's Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with ample opportunity to pair music and marketing.
Labels such as Levi's, H&M, Lacoste, Armani AX, Mulberry and Madewell (J.Crew's little sister) not only targeted the boho masses with free watches and sunglasses, they also courtsponsored parties, live performances, backstage lounges and gifting suites at the recent festival.
"Years ago, musicians were not into being associated with commercial companies. But that has changed over the last 10 years," says Andy Hilfiger, brother of Tommy Hilfiger and the creative director of rock and roll line Andrew Charles, which is inspired by Aerosmith frontman and "American Idol" judge Steven Tyler.
Indeed, today's market forces have brought music and fashion together like never before. "Florence and the Machine played the Chanel runway show in Paris, and that paid for her band to do several concerts," says Niki Roberton, owner of Iamsound Records, an L.A. label.
"No one is buying records anymore," Roberton says, "so for the artists, collaborating with brands on events and products is a natural thing. It's all about synergy."
L.A. was buzzing between those two weekends, says Greg Sato, senior manager, marketing engagement for Levi's, which opened its Hollywood Hills showroom space for bands to come through, work with stylists and grab some free clothes. "Everyone knows Levi's, so it's more about showing them what's new."
Up-and-coming musical artists are even starting to inspire the way some fashion collections are being conceived and designed. In February, Kate Spade kicked off a four-city concert tour to promote its spring collection with Brooklyn-based indie band Vivian Girls, ending with an event at the South by Southwest music festival. The band was hired with the help of the New York firm Music and Strategy after Kate Spade's creative team came up with a concept for the spring line of clothing and accessories that revolved around a girl band.
"We told about what our brand is about, that the Kate Spade girl is culturally curious, she lives in Brooklyn and goes to the flea market on Saturdays . . . and they helped us find a band that embodied that," says Lindsay Knaak, Kate Spade's director of marketing strategy. "We wanted a band with three or four girls with different personalities . . . who hadn't yet hit it big and who hadn't done anything with another brand."
At London Fashion Week in February, British fashion brand Mulberry launched the Del Rey bag, named after up-and-coming American songstress Lana Del Rey. They invited her to sit front row at the runway show and perform at the after-party.
"Musicians are the last real style blazers," says Robbie Myers, editor-in-chief of Elle magazine. "They tend to dress themselves, and their look is so much about who they are in terms of expressing their personal style and their genre of music."
Levi's created its water-resistant, antimicrobial Commuter line for urban cyclists, but apparently it's found favor with drummers like John Wicks of the L.A. band Fitz and the Tantrums.
Wicks has extolled the virtues of the pants on the Levi's blog, saying, "I walk offstage completely drenched from head to toe in sweat. It looks as though I went for a swim. I hang my Commuter pants and coat up in our trailer behind the bus and let them drip dry overnight. . . . When I take them out of the trailer the next morning not only are they dry, but they don't stink."