A few days ago, Lainey wrote about JLO’s capsule collection with Giuseppe Zanotti and how stars are looking for new product opportunities to offset the saturation in the fragrance market.
JLo, Katy, Rihanna, Kanye, Zayn, SJP – they are doing what Jessica Simpson has been doing (lucratively) for years. But there are grey areas in branding, especially when a celebrity is a designer “muse.” That relationship can be quite layered, but also fickle. And there’s the uncomfortable question of what a muse is “worth” in the eyes of the artist. Some are paid a salary by fashion houses, some are gifted with (thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, in free pieces), some get luxury travel to fashion shows. It varies.
But what about brands that simply name a product after a celeb—what’s the financial responsibility there? This morning, Nicki Minaj started posting about Giuseppe Zanotti’s “Nicki” sneaker, first with this caption: Dear @giuseppezanottidesign #RunMeMyCHECK your PR must've fell & bumped their head when they told my agency they weren't discussing anything with us. I'm giving you 24 hours. #GiuseppeWhatsGood
There’s a back story here: Giuseppe had created a shoe for Nicki, which she wore on a magazine cover. After learning that the brand was collaborating with celebs like JLo and Zayn, Nicki’s team approached them – and were dismissed. But that one-off sneaker turned into an entire signature line (a brand’s bread and butter) with over a dozen takes on the same style.
Nicki is a fashion hound, she’s a regular at the Met Gala, she works with a huge variety of designers – she knows how being a “muse” works. Giuseppe’s line took an established relationship and pushed her out of the equation, turning what was a one-off look specifically for her into a full line. And at the level Nicki is at, this is bullsh-t. And she knows it.
This is wonderful. #GiuseppeZanotti seems to think it's ok to name his sneakers after me but his PR says they won't take our call. Lol.— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) February 3, 2017
I met #GiuseppeZanotti years ago. At which time, he told me I inspired him to design a sneaker in my honor. Wore them on the cover of Cosmo— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) February 3, 2017
Recently when he gave other artists capsule collections, my agency reached out and was told they're not taking our call. 🤔— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) February 3, 2017
Don't care about the money. It's just the disrespect. You're not taking MY call? Lol. Give some money to charity in my name or smthn. 🙏🏽— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) February 3, 2017
Just go on google, you'll see all the different pairs he's named after me. Lil black girl can inspire u but ain't worth a collection my nig?— NICKI MINAJ (@NICKIMINAJ) February 3, 2017
Why would any brand, especially a fashion brand, not take Nicki’s call, particularly when she had previously supported it/worn the products? Because they already had the shoes and the marketing plan and didn’t want to cut her in. Because they wanted the essence of her without compensating or partnering with her.
Nicki brings up a larger issue that is constantly at play – many artists and brands regularly appropriate/steal/copy black artists and when they are called out, will immediately become defensive or they ignore the issue altogether. It’s dismissive to the work of black artists, and in this specific case to the work that Nicki Minaj puts into dressing and looking like Nicki Minaj. For an artist at her level, it’s not just about the clothes, it’s another form of expression.
With a few tweets, Nicki had #giuseppewhatsgood trending worldwide on Twitter. She’s turned them into a punchline – can they ignore that? So far, there’s been no response from the brand; I assume they are furiously working behind the scenes to come up with a plan. Meanwhile, Nicki isn’t pressed – she’s running Twitter polls, joking about boxing matches, retweeting memes and has given them 24 hours to respond.
If I were on the marketing team, I’d get her a charity donation cheque asap, along with a glowing “we love Nicki and would be honoured to work with her” apology. She’s shown herself to be magnanimous after a feud – if she allowed Taylor in on her VMAs performance, she could forgive this.
Her team is probably fielding collab inquiries from other brands right now – and her inevitable shoe line will be much cooler than these