Victoria Beckham’s current ready-to-wear collection is full of girl power. Not the skin-tight, leopard-print, Scrunchie-d girl power that reigned during her spicy youth, but the clean, straight lines of Pantsuit Nation.
While the former Posh may be doin’ it for herself, her luxury fashion label could use some help. On Monday, it was reported that Beckham's eponymous line of clothing, accessories, and eyewear lost $12.9 million in 2018. (Representatives for the brand did not respond to The Daily Beast's request for comment.)
The news comes after the line celebrated a decade in the industry, where Beckham has long been a fashion darling. Her label now boasts two brick-and-mortar stores, and is sold in 400 stockists in 50 countries. Top-tier department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Barney, and Moda Operandi carry VB.
In 2017, Beckham’s label received a $40 million investment from NEO Investment Partners. Part of the funds were allotted to opening more physical stores in addition to the ones already established in London and Hong Kong.
“That’s a smart move,” Elizabeth Shobert, director of marketing for retail analytics company StyleSage, told The Daily Beast. “It ensures tighter control over the brand and shelters (brands) from some of the risk of the uncontrollable unknowns of wholesale channels.” Of course, keeping those spaces also costs money.
In March, Beckham tapped Ralph Toledano as chairman of her brand. Beckham told the Financial Times she hoped that Toledano, who has worked at Chloé and Nina Ricci, would help expand the line’s presence in the ever-attractive luxury Asian market.
While current numbers may be dreary, Beckham can keep her head and signature lob haircut up. Despite the hefty loss—up from $10.6 million in 2016—revenues have grown 17 percent in the past year.
Sartorially-speaking, the line has made very few missteps. In a saturated market where it feels like every celebrity and their mother have launched a clothing line (see: Kate Hudson and Goldie Hawn), Beckham's name still holds weight.
The multi-hyphenate's current collection is modern power dressing at its most obvious. Necklines are high and wide-leg trouser hems go low. A camouflage pattern motif can be found on structural pencil skirts and puffer coats. There are a few trendy standouts, such as cherry-red stirrup pants and cerulean slip dress, but for the most part, the lineup contains understated staples.
The muted assortment is a far cry from Beckhams initial drops a decade ago.
In 2009, at the height of tabloid culture, Beckham was one of the UK’s most photographed faces (albeit one often half-covered by mammoth sunglasses, turned to the right side, because Posh knows her angles).
Though her foray into the fashion world was met with a little hesitation from insiders foaming to shrug Beckham off just as another wannabe, her inaugural season ended up charming critics and shoppers alike.
In Vogue, writer Nicole Phelps insisted that Beckham’s “sheaths and shift dresses. . .will not sell on the power of her name, but on the sophistication of their cut and fit.”
Her inaugural season was filled with skin-tight bandage dresses that were just sexy enough in the reserved, British way Beckham mastered ever since wise music executives decided that she would be the Spice Girl who wore black tube dresses.
There was a fantasy element to Beckham’s debut—at the time, Guardian fashion editor Jess Cartner-Morley overheard guests at the runway show call the rather Roland Mouret-esque designs “desirable” and “classy.”
But much has changed in the past ten years. Mid-aughts glitz and an obsession with all things body-hugging evolved into a landscape filled with more relaxed silhouettes. After armchair critics bemoaned (and body-shamed) Victoria Beckham for using what they deemed too-gaunt models in her shows, the brand quietly began featuring an ever-so-slightly more diverse roster of talent to hawk its apparel.
Case in point: the cast of Beckham’s last presentation included Stella Tennant, a 48-year-old British model. As such, the designs are less Mouret and more mommy—or at least, a high-powered working mother who can afford $945 satin trousers and manage to not trip over the dangerously-long hem.
That mother is, of course, Victoria Beckham herself. To succeed in the midst of structural changes and financial upheaval, Beckham must keep delivering on the fantasy of her collection.
As Roseanne Morrison, director of fashion for The Donegar Group, a retail consultancy firm, told The Daily Beast, “Brands that trade in on their heritage do well. But you have to keep re-establishing that aesthetic with the consumer.”
One way Beckham does this is by consistently wearing her own clothing to big events, which ups each item's cache value. Two months after Beckham wore her own navy midi-dress to the royal wedding in May, she re-issued the look on her website. It sold out immediately.
So while news of Beckham's loss was no doubt a rough start to the former Spice Girl's week, it is no means the end of her fashion career. Just like the long, mystifying hem of her power trousers, she will keep going.