Neil Dowd delves into Olly Murs’ debut collection in collaboration with River Island, talking through the collection’s highlight pieces and analysing his developing brand and its link to his fashion.
The worlds of music and fashion have always been closely intertwined. If you were to ask anyone in the music or fashion industry, they would agree that the way in which an artist or band choose to present themselves is vital in shaping the public’s perception of them and establishing their brand. Furthermore, many artists have opted to expand their horizons into the fashion world with their own clothing lines. Yeezy Supply, the clothing brand of American singer/rapper Kanye West, is one noteworthy example. Hoping to take his first steps into the fashion world, Olly Murs has teamed up with the designers at River Island to work on his first ever collection. It aims to encapsulate the everchanging evolution of his fashion from when he first took to our television screens in 2009, tailoring the collection to his specific tastes.
Olly Murs is a singer-songwriter, television presenter, and actor from Witham, Essex. Murs first came to national attention following his appearance on the sixth series of The X Factor in 2009, coming in second place to Joe McElderry. Since then he has released six studio albums, with his self-titled debut album selling 108,000 copies within its first week. Each of his following albums have also been number ones. Along with his musical success, Murs is also renowned for his work in television, presenting on The Xtra Factor from 2011 to 2012 and copresenting The X Factor in 2015. Olly was also a judge and coach on this year’s season of The Voice. Whilst Murs has undertaken many ventures across the span of his career, he is most recognised for his contributions to popular music through the years, with hits like Dance With Me Tonight, Wrapped Up and Heart Skips a Beat making him the household name he is today.
Looking back at Olly’s first appearance on The X Factor, it is interesting to note that the majority of the general public, including The X Factor’s official YouTube page, referred to him as the ‘ordinary geezer’. Whilst there are many factors contributing to Olly fitting this branded label such as his general conduct and ‘cheeky’ on-stage charisma, his clothing choices at the time visually reinforced this idea. In his audition clip, he is seen performing the Stevie Wonder track Superstition wearing a grey v-neck jumper with a black t-shirt underneath. Both of these are tucked into a pair of black, slim fit jeans revealing a brown belt, finishing the outfit with light blue slip-on canvas plimsolls and a small, black neck scarf. This choice of outfit was perfect for his first audition as it struck the perfect balance between taking pride in his appearance with the use of accessories and the tucked in clothing, whilst the slim-fit jeans and plimsoll shoes helped to make this outfit a very casual one.
In an Instagram live stream with Darren Kennedy entitled ‘#AnEveningWithOllyMurs’, Olly stated that the polo neck shirts were the best representation of his style during his early days. This supports the aforementioned idea as both items of clothing create a smart casual appearance, which accentuates the regular ‘geezer’ perception that people have of him.
The release of this collection was organised to coincide with the release of Olly’s latest album You Know I Know. Originally intended to be a greatest hits album, Murs decided to release a double album, with the first half containing new material and the second half compiling his most well-known works from previous albums. He has stated that his cojudge on The Voice Tom Jones had a huge influence on this decision, commenting that he wanted to give more to his fans than just the older songs. During the #AnEveningWithOllyMurs live stream, Olly chose his latest single Moves featuring the American rapper Snoop Dogg as the song that best captures the essence of his collection. Listening to the song, it is clear to see why. The thumping bass riff, the staccato, off-beat stabs from the guitar along with the ‘four on the floor’ rhythm used by the drums are the perfect combination when creating the disco inspired feel that this track possesses. The musical components, carried by Murs’ lyrical content and ear catching melodies, give this track its ‘slick and cool’ vibe, its upbeat feel making it the perfect song to dance to.
Linking these ideas back to the collection, it is clear to see that creating a collection of accessible, interchangeable, smart-casual outfits has been the aim throughout. The outfits displayed here are exemplary for going out clubbing as they strike the perfect balance between simplistic and classy. In one image, Olly is modelling a black polo neck long-sleeved shirt, tucked into black checkered super skinny trousers with black loafers and a black belt. The simplicity within this look lies within its lack of colour, with black being the staple colour across the entirety of the outfit, excluding the touches of grey on the trousers. However, the tucked in shirt and loafers help to give the outfit an air of class, which is appropriate given Murs’ open admiration for the style and fashion of David Beckham.
The use of baby blue is also a strong colour story across the collection, including a blue overcoat. Similarly to the other overcoats on the River Island website, the coat has two front flap pockets, with button cuff detailing on the sleeves of the arms. Not only does this item conform to the smart casual theme of the collection, but the incorporation of the baby blue adds a dynamic to the line whilst using colours that are hard to find in mens clothing. The black block slim fit jumper also uses this shade of blue on the torso, supporting the symmetrical blocks of white on each shoulder in breaking up the black and bringing a fresh twist to the colour scheme. This collection does so much more than bring the Essex born kid who grew up embellishing his own clothes closer to his passion of fashion. The casual sophistication of the collection also reinforces the idea that Olly’s brand of being the ‘ordinary geezer’ is still how his fans can connect to him – all of whom are bound to love what this collection has to offer.