Music and art themselves are now being given a run for their money by the ever-growing array of off-site parties and sponsored suites, runway shows and a pop-up fashion store on festival grounds.
In the unlikely setting of the California desert, fashion biggies have hosted pool parties alongside inflatable white swans, and resplendent brunches on tables decorated with bouquets of flowers. They have created in-hotel lounges with brightly coloured, branded throw pillows strewn atop couches, and escape-from-Coachella portrait studios.
The festival, which started humbly in the grunge days of 1999, has changed drastically. Now, you see a smattering of spring, summer and resort fashion styles with lots of fringe and crochet and a requisite floral headband or floppy sun hat.
Fashionistas say a convergence of cool elements make Coachella a haute spot. It boasts an eclectic lineup of musicians (AC/DC, Jack White and Drake were the performers this year); its proximity to Los Angeles means a high celebrity quotient; and its audience is plugged into Instagram, so images of the festival and its fashion span the world in real time.
“Social media has had a huge influence on everyone getting involved,” said Lisa Sugar, founder of lifestyle site popsugar.com, which hosted three days of fashion events in nearby Palm Springs, California. Brands are seizing the opportunity to be part of the Coachella conversation and see the festival as a place to connect directly with young consumers, she said.
Luxury and commercial fashion brands alike are going bigger and bolder each year at the festival, spending more and more aggressively and staging grander events.
The Council of Fashion Designers of America is adding the festival to its calendar for the first time this year. CFDA chief Steven Kolb said Coachella shapes today’s fashion much like the Woodstock festival did in the early 1970s.
“It’s the curation of artists and diversity of music that worked,” he said. “That’s always been true with music and fashion. Music has always influenced fashion and vice versa... So for our industry to harness that was just a natural evolution.”
The festival has even inspired its own namesake clothing line: H&M introduced its sunny H&M Loves Coachella collection worldwide last month. The Swedish retailer, a Coachella sponsor for the past six years, hosted an interactive installation on the festival grounds this year that included a “360-degree Selfie Station” and a temporary store that sold exclusive, festival-only products. (SH)
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