Business Insights

From Spice Girl to fashion icon: How Victoria Beckham built her clothing empire

Victoria Beckham started her career as a Spice Girl after answering an ad for young women who were “street smart, extrovert, ambitious and able to sing and dance,” that was placed in British industry magazine “The Stage” in 1994.

After selling more than 85 million records with the pop group and marrying soccer star David Beckham in 1999, she reinvented herself as a fashion star, featuring on an April cover of British Vogue in 2008, before debuting her fashion line in New York in September that year.

“Beautiful,” “desirable” and “classy” were the words reviewers used to describe that first collection and more than 20 years after starting her pop career, she has morphed into a fashion icon with an eponymous clothing label that ships to more than 100 countries.

Victoria Beckham the fashion brand started off small, she told CNBC’s Tania Bryer, speaking at London Fashion Week on Sunday. “At the beginning, it was 10 dresses and I showed the dresses and then I sold the dresses and now it’s so much more complicated,” she said.

She’s not a trained designer and has relied on her team to help build the brand, now stocked in more than 400 stores.

“There was two of us when I first started and it was just dresses, whereas now, we’ve grown. It’s not just dresses, it’s tailoring, it’s knitwear, it’s a complete wardrobe, plus accessories as well. So I’ve learnt a lot from my team and I’ve learnt a lot about the business. I’ve had to, I hadn’t done this before, so I’ve surrounded myself with the right people and the team has grown each season,” Beckham told Bryer.

Beckham showed a collection for the first time at London Fashion Week on Sunday, having previously showed her clothing in New York. An art gallery next to her Mayfair boutique was the location for the catwalk collection, shown to an audience of 250.

The company has had a recent shake up, with Beckham hiring fashion veteran Paolo Riva as chief executive in June and Paris-based Ralph Toledano as chair in March. Neo Investment Partners put £30 million ($39.3 million) into the business in November 2017 and Beckham plans to open more shops.

“This is a start of a new chapter. I’ve bought on investors, I’ve got a new CEO that started two weeks ago, there is so much that I want to do to really put my foot on the gas. You know, I’m building my team, spending a lot of time focusing on the digital side of things… so it really is building the brand and taking it to the next level, which I’m going to be able to do now that I have the right people around me,” she added.

Beckham hinted that a skincare and makeup line are in the works, after running a makeup collaboration with Estee Lauder.

Staying independent is important to Beckham, as is being able to sell direct to consumers. When asked by Bryer about the current retail climate, she said: “There’s always going to be challenges. For me, being able to communicate directly with my customer and (that) she can just get what she wants from the shopping experience, (that it) can be enjoyable and it can be fast and she can get what she wants quickly. That is key for me.”

Beckham is starring in a series of ads to celebrate her fashion line. But instead of showcasing her clothes, she is shown appearing wearing a Victoria Beckham-branded shopping bag over her head with just her legs showing, among other poses.

Revenues for the year ending December 2016 were £36 million and the label is part of Beckham Brand Holdings.

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