As the music industry’s top artists hit the stage this summer, they are backing up their hit songs with high fashion. While performers such as Beyoncé have tapped designers for exclusive ensembles, others have kept their style simple. But one thing is for sure: Musicians are carefully considering their wardrobe choices.
Top brands have clearly taken notice of the unique platform that artists have while on the road.
Adidas — which outfitted Run-DMC three decades ago and currently works with brand partners such as Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Rita Ora — continues to bet on musical partnerships. “Musicians frequently define style and the direction of fashion trends,” said Traci Morlan, Adidas’ global director of entertainment and influencer marketing. “An alignment with the right artist can naturally bring added exposure and visibility. Our philosophy and approach is a bit different in that we seek to work with artists who already have an existing love for the three stripes.”
In the luxury-fashion realm, Giuseppe Zanotti, for example, has crafted custom shoes for Rihanna and Selena Gomez. “Because of my deep connection with music, I enjoy making special shoes for performances,” said Zanotti. “Talents give the shoes energy and bring them to life. People and fans get very excited when they see them, and of course, this has an overall positive impact [for the brand].”
Reebok is another label taking advantage of music’s influence, specifically with the Atlanta-native and rapper Future. “Artists have the ability to shift culture,” said Damion Presson, Reebok’s director of entertainment marketing. “We don’t want to just do an endorsement deal. We are looking for true partners that contain synergies between our brand and their brand and how we can both build together. It’s going to create exposure and have a direct effect on sales.”
Here, Footwear News ranks the summer’s top hit-makers and their fashion onstage.
With an estimated gross of $126.3 million, her Formation World Tour ranks No. 1 on the 2016 Mid Year Top 100 North American Tours list from music-industry publication Pollstar. And as Beyoncé’s stadium trek rakes in big bucks, fans are getting their money’s worth with a production that includes couture and custom-made costumes.
“The thread is a Victorian antebellum streetwear vibe,” said Marni Senofonte, the singer’s stylist. “When I spoke to designers, I tried to get a consistent semblance. They all submitted sketches, then Beyoncé and I went through them and decided.”
Beyoncé has six costume changes throughout her show, wearing styles from Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Olivier Rousteing, Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy, Ulyana Sergeenko and DSquared2.
She pairs the outfits with customized footwear including Christian Louboutin ankle booties and Balmain boots. “Because she dances so much in every set, the shoes have to have enough ankle support and height — just a couple inches makes everyone look better, and it’s easier to dance in than a flat,” Senofonte said, noting that Beyoncé’s stage shoes are typically 2.5 to 3 inches tall.
“The designers, in all of their sketches presented to us, created a shoe that goes with their look. It’s part of the art,” Senofonte added.
As Rihanna opens each show on her Anti World Tour singing “Stay,” the energy builds as she moves across a suspended walkway, giving nearly all fans a clear view of her custom Giuseppe Zanotti chap boots.
“Designing shoes for stage is not an easy job. It is all about finding the right balance between wow factors and wearable elements. I always put a lot of work into the design, and I obsess over every single detail to make a comfortable shoe,” Zanotti said.
Throughout each show, Rihanna changes into multiple costumes with designs by Adam Selman, Armani Privé and Y/Project.
In addition to her Zanotti boots, the star dons Manolo Blahnik ankle booties and pumps. That’s not a surprise given that Rihanna recently collaborated with the designer on a limited-edition capsule collection of denim-inspired looks.
“It’s very interesting to work with young people like Rihanna,” Blahnik told FN recently. “I find it ravishing the way she moves.”
The pop sensation closed the North American leg of his Purpose World Tour in New York City in July, and he will resume performing in September with a run of concerts in Europe. Bieber’s concert merchandise became so popular that Urban Outfitters partnered with him to launch an exclusive Purpose-themed collection this summer both in stores and online.
The singer’s ’90s street-style onstage wardrobe, created by Fear of God founder Jerry Lorenzo, was also such a big hit that it led to a special collaboration with Barneys New York. Onstage, the “Company” singer is seen wearing Adidas Ultra Boost sneakers, as well as Yeezy Boosts, Vans and Fear of God military kicks.
The 24-year-old “Hands to Myself” singer kicked off her Revival Tour in Las Vegas in May wearing custom looks that have continued to evolve throughout the concert series.
During a recent Australian gig, Gomez donned a new wardrobe featuring Gianvito Rossi heels and a custom Dion Lee white corset gown.
Christian Classen, Gomez’s fashion director, understands how important it is for a performer to be agile onstage. “Their bodies have to maintain high adrenaline, and their feet need to stay secure and comfortable,” he explained. “Sometimes we start with a specific shoe; other times we scour the market, and a lot of the time we make them from scratch.”
Gomez rocks standout shoe looks from Louis Vuitton, Fausto Puglisi and a statement mirror ankle boot by Zanotti during a section of the show that has a technology theme. “Mirror elements and black suede were the perfect mix to create something innovative, shiny and in line with the theme,” Zanotti said.
Demi Lovato & Nick Jonas
The Future Now Tour, co-headlined by pop singers Lovato and Jonas, supports her fifth studio album, “Confident,” and his new release, “Last Year Was Complicated.” With the duo sharing the stage at certain points in each show, it was key that their aesthetics complemented one another, according to Avo Yermagyan, their stylist.
“I wanted to make sure that the looks for each of them stands alone, and they are true to their personal style,” he said. “[But] they still need to work together because the show is so fluid.”
Jonas is exclusively dressed in DSquared from head to toe. “He has two looks to choose from for the opening act, and for the second act, he has four looks that he can choose from to keep things fresh,” Yermagyan said.
Lovato’s tour wardrobe focuses on bodysuits and thigh-high boots from designers including Gianvito Rossi, Amanda Gregory and Saint Laurent. Comfort is key when it comes to performing, so Yermagyan had the task of personalizing each shoe. “I customized the boots to add fabric on the top for move coverage,” he said. “Gussets, hooks and eyes, industrial strength zippers were also added to make them functional for the stage. We always have backups and duplicates.”
The “Low Life” rapper has been sharing the stage alongside Drake during the Summer Sixteen Tour. While Drake continually represents Jordan Brand, Future is making sure Reebok has some time in the spotlight.
The brand announced its partnership with Future in July, while unveiling the InstaPump Fury “Overbranded,” which hits retail this fall.
“Future has a unique sound and sense of style that resonates with youth culture across the globe. His willingness to go against the grain in music and in fashion caught my attention,” Presson said. “I felt that with our collaboration efforts, we [can] continue to move our brand forward and touch a broad spectrum of consumers. That’s essentially what we are looking for — artists who are pioneers within their own space.”
Throughout each concert, Future performs solo songs such as “March Madness” and “Move That Dope” while wearing Reebok x Freebandz apparel, as well as the brand’s kicks.
The British rock quartet, fronted by lead singer Chris Martin, has racked up a ton of buzz on their global tour for the album “A Head Full of Dreams.”
Martin’s onstage shoe style includes multiple colorways of the Jordan Spikize sneakers, which were designed by his son on the Nike iD custom site. “When Chris realized they were going to be the shoe for the tour, Nike was kind enough to duplicate a few more pairs of each,” said stylist Beth Fenton.
Coldplay consistently wears the same collection of clothing that was specifically made for the album, according to Fenton. “A lot of pieces are bespoke, and almost all of the clothes are customized by me in some way, whether they’re overdyed or with custom-made prints and trims,” Fenton said.