The Impact of Reggaeton on US Fashion

By 12 August, 2019

What started out as a music genre inspired by the rough streets of urban Puerto Rico in the 2000s, has recently started turning into a mainstream movement that blends hip-hop, soul and Caribbean rhythms. Reggaeton has grown 119 percent from 2014 to 2017, beating pop, which grew 13 percent, and country music, which grew only by four percent, in the same period. With the genre making waves across the USA, it is little wonder that high-end brands such as Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana and Guess are looking to reggaeton stars to promote their wares to a new type of market—particularly as the music genre has started to transcend its rough image.

Some of the world’s biggest fashion and luxury brands are now bringing reggaeton artists into their fold, with many big names in the industry popping up at fashion shows to promote the growing streetwear trend, says fashion expert at MONEDEROsmart. Columbian singer J Balvin is a case in point. Last year, the reggaeton megastar who has collaborated with the likes of Justin Bieber and Beyonce, has been spotted as Louis Vuitton and Chanel fashion shows. He was also last year’s New York Fashion Week’s ambassadors and is fronting the Guess Spring/Summer 2019 ad campaign.

Unlike artists such as Shakira and Ricky Martin, who traditionally resorted to English lyrics to please foreign audiences, reggaeton stars offer a more modern and broader Latin perspective, thus reaching markets in both Latin America and beyond. Many of these artists have a staggering following. J Balvin, for example, has amassed 11 number one Latin singles, over 50 million social media followers and more than 10 billion YouTube views. Last year, he also became the most streamed artist on Spotify. Meanwhile, Maluma, a Columbian dubbed the pretty boy of reggaeton, has over 36 million Instagram followers, a statistic noticed by Dolce & Gabbana, which has used him to promote their garments. Mexican musician, Chui Navarro, who has collaborated with Maluma, in turn, has ties with Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Tommy Hilfiger.

While reggaeton is still a male-dominated music genre, this is gradually beginning to change as women make inroads on the global music and fashion scene. Cuban pop-singer Camila Cabello, who has collaborated with J Balvin, Pitbull and Daddy Yankee, and has a number of chart-topping hits, has recently landed a fashion deal with Guess. The rap sensation Cardi B, who is of Trinidadian and Dominican descent, and has hits featuring J Balvin and Bad Bunny, has been dressed by brands such as Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana, and, last year, has helped to launch a fashion line with the e-tailer Fashion Nova.

Whether reggaeton is here to stay remains to be seen. What is clear is that the music genre is breaking boundaries between Latin American and global music, a trend that the fashion industry has started to use for commercial gain. Whatever happens in the future, for now, having captured audiences globally, reggaeton artists remain firmly in charge of brand promotion.

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