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The rag trade to riches – just spend it like Beckham

Published: September 11, 2012 | 7:00 am
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IF YOU want to understand how a former Spice girl and soccer wag became one of the most commercially and critically successful fashion designers on the planet, you needed only to look at her tweet before her New York Fashion Week show yesterday.
”After three hours sleep I feel like an old bag! x vb#NYFW” Beckham tweeted with a picture of herself with a large purple tote over her head. The fact is, VB’s bags are far from the brown paper grocery store variety. They all have four-digit price tags and are crafted from luxe leathers like buffalo, calfskin and camel. The super-luxe Alligator Victoria bag had a price tag of £18,000, or about $27,800, when it was released last year.
The path to celebrities-as-fashion designers is peppered with roadkill.
Lindsay Lohan’s ill-fated design career ended after a single, slated collection for the Parisian label Emanuel Ungaro in 2009, and when Kanye West unveiled his debut fashion range at Paris Fashion Week in 2011, one wag described it as ”rap with a capital-C.”
When Beckham made her NYFW debut as a designer in 2008, she appeared to be yet another celebrity cashing in on her profile with a collection she probably would pay someone else to design for her and perhaps half-heartedly promote a couple of times a year. The fact is, Sunday’s picture of Beckham with the bag over her head shows her working in her studio ”after three hours sleep,” albeit in six-inch stilettos, dripping with diamonds and a stonking great gold wrist watch as her manicured fingers tap over the computer keyboard.
You may be shocked to hear this, but Beckham actually does much of the grunt work herself. Sales of Beckham’s two ready-to wear lines, sunglasses and denim totalled £60 million last year.
Beckham’s debut creations received rave reviews from hard-nosed fashion editors, even though they came with a little inspiration from Roland Mouret. But over time the former Posh Spice has honed her own design signature into unashamedly posh dressing, including elegant, calf-length dresses and pencil skirts, figure-flattering peplum tops and of course, the rather pricey handbags. Her fashion show on Sunday at the New York Public Library also received an overwhelmingly positive response.
Unlike many other celebrity ”designers”, Beckham has been able to build such a credible profile in the fashion industry because she takes it seriously.
Along with investing her own time in the brand, Beckham has recruited a strong sales team and design department and has been honest enough to admit repeatedly that she is still learning about the fashion business. And she actually wears the clothes.


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