High street stores are queuing up to get famous faces designing clothes for them, and the Kate Moss collection for Topshop is the latest in a long line of fashion chains cashing in on celebrity. Joe Ayling looks at how retailers are turning to the rich and famous in the hope that some of the glamour will rub off on them.

In recent years Kate Moss has resided more in the gossip pages than the fashion ones, leading some to question whether Topshop has "sold out" by signing up the supermodel that H&M and Burberry decided to drop for alleged cocaine use in 2005. Judging by the level of interest her profile has commanded, however, such morals are purely material.

But whereas high-end fashion brands have never been short of models ready to flaunt their latest lines, either officially or incidentally, high street chains are moving into an unprecedented era of celebrity endorsements.

And recent months have seen a flurry in the number of other clothing retailers who are entrusting their brand into the care of a celebrity - a tag that Moss cannot shrug off these days.  

The launch of the Kate Moss Topshop collection earlier this month follows hot on the heels of pop queen Madonna, who co-designed her own spring collection with Swedish retailer H&M. H&M has also teamed up with the princess of pop, Kylie Minogue, for a bikini line called H&M loves Kylie, which includes 15 styles of swimwear.

Meanwhile, UK singer Lily Allen has endorsed a range of clothes for New Look, the fashion chain identified by Verdict Research as one of the top three major gainers on the UK high street during 2006, behind Primark and M&S.

Celebrity culture
Carol Ratcliffe, a retail analyst at Verdict Research, told just-style: "We will be seeing more of the celebrity culture entering fashion over the next year or so. One store does it, making other retailers do the same thing. Recent examples, such as Kate Moss and Madonna, have driven excitement and improved brand awareness."

She adds that while it is not essential to have a celebrity on board, that high street brands had a lot to gain by doing so.

Arcadia Group's coup goes some way to making Topshop customers feel like they are in Paris, Milan or Rome, and Moss also has a rebellious side that gives the collection an edge suitable for nightclubs, music festival or even after party wear.

The group's owner Philip Green is well aware of this, describing the collection as "different", with a "point of view" at the launch.

Customers at Topshop's flagship Oxford Street store could only try on eight items, which included dresses, hot pants, waistcoats and skinny jeans, together with limited edition designs. The retailer says that 2,500 people went through the door and while the collection did not sell out on the day, Ebay had 5,000 hits for the collection two days later.

Topshop spokesperson Amy Elderton told just-style: "The collection went really fast and we were constantly replenishing. On the night it sold extremely well, even though there was a limit of five pieces each. We had really positive feedback from people who enjoyed being looked after."

Different market
Ratcliffe points out that the likes of Topshop are targeting a different market to high-end designers, so it seems that brands like Calvin Klein have little to worry about. Besides, Calvin Klein took Moss onboard itself last year, in a deal worth GBP500,000 (US$875,000) - just to cover its back.

Commenting on Topshop's Kate Moss range, Elderton says: "The collection is not really targeting any particular type of consumer. We hope it appeals to people who appreciate her style and are interested in her. Her range has a huge appeal so there is no consumer we would or would not target. It has her personality stamped all over it - which is playful and really edgy."

Asked whether Moss acted an innovator or box ticker during the design process, she tells just-style that Moss was instrumental, and would visit the company's designers every few weeks with old objects and photos for ideas during her six-month consultation period.

Topshop is unable to comment on how much Moss was being paid for her collection, but it is widely thought she will pick up around GBP3m for the range, which is set to hit 225 stores worldwide. The company tells just-style it is confident of returns on the investment, despite Moss spending seconds rather than minutes as a mannequin during Monday's launch.

Giving Moss another chance was a shrewd business decision by Green, who grew up in the same part of London as his star designer. Having attracted a scrum of public interest this week the only thing certain to be "sold out" is a skimpy Kate Moss dress or two.