Sunday Sep 16, 2018
LONDON: Untested in the fashion world, Victoria Beckham launched her VB label in 2008 in New York, across the Atlantic from her native Britain.
A decade on, she will exhibit at London Fashion Week for the first time on Sunday, in a triumphant homecoming of sorts for a now widely-respected designer and entrepreneur.
The ex-Spice Girls singer oversees an empire comprising four clothing lines, more than 400 retail outlets in over 50 countries and offices in London and New York.
At the outset Beckham, a longtime fashionista, faced a daunting challenge: convincing a competitive and demanding industry that she could make a lasting impression on fickle fashion fans.
Seizing the opportunity to surpass her status as a pop star and the original footballer’s WAG — meaning wives and girlfriends — she has gradually earned widespread recognition, even from fashion luminaries such as Karl Lagerfeld, the creative genius behind Chanel.
"Many saw her as just another example of a celebrity wanting to have a fashion range with no formal fashion training," Andrew Groves, a professor of fashion design at the University of Westminster, told AFP.
"Through hard work and determination, she has proved those early critics wrong."
In the space of a decade, Beckham, 44, has ventured into accessories, expanded sales internationally and online and multiplied collaborations with the likes of Reebok, Target and Estee Lauder.
Her style has also evolved, from the chic classicism that marked her first steps into haute couture to the more daring cuts and vibrant colours — neon orange, mint green, lilac — of more recent offerings.
"It’s been an incredible journey, even when things can be challenging. I’ve had to learn incredibly quickly," she told The Daily Telegraph newspaper recently.
She claims the secret of her success is a tireless work ethic and the support of her family — football superstar husband David and their four children.
Beckham was blunt about the ambition for her brand "to get bigger and bigger", in a 2013 interview with The New York Times Magazine.
That came a step closer in 2017 with the formation of her Victoria Beckham Limited (VBL) company thanks to a Â£30 million ($39 million, 34 million euros) injection from private equity firm NEO Investment Partners.
It valued the brand at Â£100 million, according to Business of Fashion magazine.
However, VBL will look to reduce its losses, which reached Â£8.5 million at the end of 2016 — nearly double the previous year, according to its most recent financial results.
"Running deficits of that volume is not unique in this industry and not necessarily a sign that she is any the less credible," Naomi Braithwaite, a fashion marketing and branding lecturer at Nottingham Trent University, told AFP.
"It takes a time to build a brand and she is competing with labels that have a very long established history."
Groves added that Beckham has "all the right elements to last for many years as a medium-sized designer brand".
He noted her stated desire to build "an empire" hints at the overriding desire to continue to defy the early doubters.
As for the Spice Girls, the most famous girlband in history has reformed for a 13-date tour in 2019 but without "Posh Spice", who has drawn a line under her first life as a pop star, according to British media.
British Vogue magazine featured Beckham surrounded by her children on its October cover under the headline "fashion gets real".
"That’s what I’m doing now," she told the magazine.