Fashion and music. It’s a marriage that has underpinned popular culture since the latter half of the last century. The Beatles single-handedly styled a nation, Jagger brought skin-tight clothed androgyny to the mainstream, whilst Elton John is almost as famous for his collection of platform shoes, as he is for his music.
The same still applies today, and you only have to take a brief walk down the high street to see how far the two worlds have intertwined; H&M advertisements display Lana Del Rey in the latest autumn trends, while a brief glance at the latest glossy on the news-stand will be covered with images of Lady Gaga’s latest show-stopping outfit.
But, walk a bit further and you might be surprised to see this relationship blooming in a new setting, one that’s more analogous with bargain bucket prices than the lofty world of haute couture.
Primark has announced that it is to begin stocking music in it’s stores after completing a deal with Universal, which will see CD’s by artists such as N-Dubz and Rihanna lining the shelves of the cut-price clothing chain. While this is not a new idea, with Urban Outfitters and Claire’s Accessories already offering a selection of music, it is the scale of this venture between these two respective industry giants that will be most worrying to the current market leader HMV. With 242 stores in the UK and growing, Primark already outstrips the reach of HMV, who currently host 220 stores nationwide.
With sales up 15% on the year for Primark, compared with that of floundering HMV, whose desperate attempts to keep it’s head above water by selling off it’s live venue franchise; MAMA Group have still failed to prevent a dip of 11.6% in total sales, Primark looks set to pounce on a market that HMV seems to be preparing to abandon ship from. The high street music vendor has already begun to allocate more and more floor space to it’s “Technologies” department and profits look set to sink further after changes in off-shore tax laws back in April meant that HMV was forced to close it’s channel island based mail order service, and relocate.
With Primark stepping in to fill, what it described to Marketing Magazine as, “a natural gap in the market”, perhaps this, combined with the growing trend towards downloads, will be the future of music consumption in the UK. Maybe we’ll be able to ‘try on’ our music in futuristic changing rooms while we shop or be able to pick our next album based on recommendations next to what shoes we’re looking at.
Whatever the case, music and fashion look set to continue to be an endearing and enduring couple whose whims will dictate our lives for years to come. This may prove to be a final hammer blow for HMV and independent record stores but, if nothing else, take heart from the fact that you may one day see Justin Bieber’s face staring blankly up at you from a £1 basket full of reduced Y-fronts.