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On the rack

David Kermode | 15:09 UK time, Tuesday, 1 May 2007

As Kate Moss's collection hit Topshop this morning, we found ourselves on the rack for covering it.

Breakfast logoShoppers queued through the night to catch a glimpse of her new range, but the overwhelming majority of our viewers (those who got in touch) seemed to suggest it was a non-story:

"Congratulations on your marketing efforts on behalf of Kate Moss. Each time you mention her name a wave of apathy runs around our household", said one viewer. "Philip Green must be laughing all the way to the bank" said another. While "Look at those lemmings piling into that shop" was how someone else summed it up.
So why did we feature it? And why did we feel we needed to mention it on two consecutive days?

The first question is easier than the second.

kmoss_203afp.jpgLove her or loathe her, Kate Moss is a modern icon. Just look at the level of press coverage she generates.

Topshop - a privately-owned company and a big employer - have taken a commercial decision to involve her in their design process, just as other retailers have done with the likes of Madonna and Lilly Allen. That, in itself, is an interesting shift in fashion retailing.

There's also the issue of modern consumer behaviour. Witness the scenes at Primark's Oxford Street launch.

Is it 'a story'? Well, it's all about popular culture and - as I have said before on this blog - news content needs to include popular culture if it's to retain its relevance.

But why did we do it twice? This is a trickier one for me. We focussed on the launch, in a preview piece yesterday, because we thought it would be odd not to look ahead to one of the biggest retail launches of the year. Our package included an element of critical review, from a fashion writer, in order to make it feel like a proper piece of objective reportage.

topshopcrowd203_getty.jpgThis morning, it would have seemed odd not to be there for the opening of the doors, so our reporter Susannah Streeter was live in the queue. Keeping a sense of critical review, amid the excitement outside the store, was tougher. However, we included voxpops from a couple of shoppers who were somewhat underwhelmed by the offer.

Among the criticisms this morning, a few of our viewers pointed out that there are many young British designers struggling for recognition. Why don't we feature them? The answer, of course, is that they are 'not Kate Moss'. But I must admit that those comments did set us thinking about how we might tell that 'story' too.


  • 1.
  • At 05:39 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • James Ackroyd wrote:

The only reason this allegedly drug addled and alcoholic woman still gets press and is promoted by brands and the media is that they have see the same level of behaviour as her and see it as nothing wrong when in fact she is an appalling role model for people. Role model to young women and fashion icon? Give me a break. Alleged Coke taking friend of the coke snorting media and fashion world - yes. that's why she's covered by the "me me media". look, she's just like us! lets cover her again tomorrow. How fabulous guys. the usual naval gazing nonsense from the media. the media need to wake up about losers like this and what they represent, and show some responsibility. guess this won't get printed.

  • 2.
  • At 09:10 PM on 01 May 2007,
  • Elle wrote:

Question: "So why did we feature it?"
Answer: "Love her or loathe her, Kate Moss is a modern icon. Just look at the level of press coverage she generates."

So you featured it because everyone else was?

I'd hardly call a high street publicity stunt news, by reporting it you are creating more of a story as more young women hear about it and flock to the store! As you say towards the end of your article it is the struggling young artists full of innovation and creativity that need the free advertising not big corporates who are flogging millions of the same dress designed by some coke addicts fit wife.

  • 3.
  • At 08:37 AM on 02 May 2007,
  • Lionel Shapiro wrote:

KATE MOSS hyperbole: and what about your doing the hype for the special gravity-less airline flight company which used Steve Hawking to pull you in to giving enormous free advertising for them, for no scientific interest and with a minor scientist. . .

I don't actually disagree with the decision to cover this: Kate Moss is a global celebrity, arguably one of the most recognisable Brits on the planet today. But I'm uneasy at David's standing behind the excuse that we should 'just look at the level of press coverage she generates'.

If I might paraphrase, that's like saying 'we cover her because we cover her'. Journalists have a growing habit of referring to the media in the third person, and not including themselves in it. You *are* the media, David - and hence you *are* responsible for this.

And in these days of convergence and diversification, any distinction between 'press' and 'broadcast' is artificial at best. We have newspapers producing radio, radio stations producing video, and TV stations producing text services. You're all intruding on each other's territories. There simply is no 'us and them' any more.

If you think it's a good story - and yes, I think it probably was - then you need to have the courage to say so. Don't use everyone else as your defence.

  • 5.
  • At 10:20 AM on 02 May 2007,
  • Noel McNulty wrote:

Consider the following sentence:

"Love her or loathe her, Jordan is a modern icon. Just look at the level of press coverage she generates."

So, by your own rationale, we can look forward to coverage of the antics of Mr & Mrs Andre on Breakfast in the near future.

What a glorious prospect!

  • 6.
  • At 10:23 AM on 02 May 2007,
  • Doreen Taylor wrote:

I think this reply is good enough you see that most people in the UK think she IS A Drug Addict not an ICON and the only reason she gets herself in the media is when she is snorting cocaine . Sorry as far as I`m concerned IT WAS NOT NEWS AND I THOUGHT THAT WAS WHAT BREAKFAST WAS ALL ABOUT.

Yet Again a Celebrity gets full Media Attention.

The launch of Kate Moss’ clothing range at Topshop has been covered every where in the media. This has creates a wide range of sentiment across the general public with regard to a number of aspects of this initiative by Topshop and a number of people have commented upon the extraordinary level of publicity and support which has been afforded Kate Moss given that she has no previous design credentials, training or qualifications. Couple that with the huge sum of money paid by Topshop to an already highly wealthy supermodel and it is easy to see why young, struggling professional designers will find this, at best, disheartening and, at worst, tawdry!
Personally, I am fascinated by these events, as so many customers appear to be queuing up to buy the range because of the hype and publicity created for the launch. In contrast most hard working young fashion design students will never get access to this level of much needed publicity – no matter how talented they are. Although there are several organisations such as Creative London and the British Fashion Council which support young designers, in many cases these are not only highly competitive routes but also require that the individual concerned must have attended certain courses at very select art colleges. Useful as these organisations are, nothing will afford a young designer the huge publicity and exposure which Kate Moss has received, solely based on her celebrity status. A highly clever marketing initiative by Topshop but one which must surely leave our talented but unknown young designers wishing to pack it all in for the safety of a secure job somewhere where their talents might be buried for ever!
I am Editor of "The Talent Magazine", a soon to be launched quarterly-published magazine aimed at assisting emerging talent in the fashion, film, music and arts worlds. It is a commercial venture but with a clear focus of providing talented people a platform to showcase their wares in circumstances where this might otherwise not be possible. We are also committed to "ploughing back" profits (when we eventually generate them) into our targeted spheres.
The Talent Magazine aims to provide proposition opportunities to aspiring talent through a number of initiatives at considerably lower cost than has hitherto been possible - or at no cost sometimes - and a significant element of the profits we make in the future will be earmarked for further promotional activities and events.
In our launch issue we will be featuring a comprehensive run down of the funding and business resources currently available to designers relevant to their personal experience and aspiration. This has been written by Samata Angel, (winner of UK Urban Fashion Award - Best Couture Line and nominee for the British Female Inventor of the Year Award 2007), a British designer who can comment first hand on the issues faced in trying to break through in the competitive world of fashion. One of the factors which makes The Talent Magazine so relevant is that all of the team have had hands-on experience in their relevant fields and have also struggled to gain the exposure that is the lifeblood needed for the healthy development of young talent; they will therefore approach articles from their readers' perspective more effectively.

  • 8.
  • At 10:48 AM on 02 May 2007,
  • tom murray wrote:

Frankly that blog was a load of clap trap, Kate Moss may be an icon in some people's eyes. I have been a fashion photographer for many years, with Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Yves St Laurent and Armani as clients. I also know what makes a great model, its being part of a team, of hair, make up, fashion stylists and some great camera work and lighting. Kate Moss may be an icon, but she is certainly no fashion designer. An icon usually does not have such a dodgy past and an even dodgier boyfriend.

Philip Green is a great brilliant entrepeneur, so good luck to him, his tills are ringing, as for all those fashion victims buying that rubbish...get a life and get some taste. Sucks boo the BBC for giving so much air time and thousands of pounds worth of free advertising for so little. I always thought people that complained to the Beeb were a bit picky, now I understand their frustrations.
Many hard working young British designers must have seen that puff piece and thrown there scissors and thread into the bin, in frustration.

  • 9.
  • At 11:02 AM on 02 May 2007,
  • Dr Tony Berry wrote:

The Kate Moss story is just another symptoms of the changes that are taking place in news broadcasting. To maintain and grow its audience TV news has become factual News AND a Glossy magazine programme and the division between the two has become more fuzzy as channels compete for audience share. The Kate Moss thing is an example of the latter. The factual news is also changing in that is much more reliant on government feeding --- eye catching spin with little real substance or outcome. O for the days of investigative, non-biased journalism about real issues.

  • 10.
  • At 02:14 PM on 02 May 2007,
  • jim-uk wrote:

If I want this type of "news" in the morning then I'll watch GMTV, you should be offering an alternative and not copying them.

  • 11.
  • At 10:01 PM on 02 May 2007,
  • Karen UK wrote:

I'm sorry to have to complain, but I really didn't agree with this blog. It probably was news, that so many people turned up for the launch of a clothing range, but it certainly didn't deserve the coverage it got. And describing Kate Moss as an icon is nothing short of a travesty, if referring to an image of something sacred. I'm with John Humphreys on this one; we seem to have lost track of who the real celebrities are.

Part of the BBC's mission statement is to inform.

I can't imagine that a majority of the millions of viewers watching BBC News needed to be informed about the latest pop culture/fashion news. Can anyone explain how this story was informative to anyone outside of that queue?

BBC News is not a mouthpiece for pandering to the highest audience and pop culture.

Though, I suppose if I don't want to see Kate Moss in the news then I should just switch off!

  • 13.
  • At 03:36 PM on 03 May 2007,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

Asking a couple of random people in the queue what they thought of the clothes hardly constitutes 'critical review'. You could just have easily found two shoppers who loved them (and perhaps you did but edited them out). You have fallen into the trap of thinking that 'critical' means 'negative'. Not so.

  • 14.
  • At 05:23 PM on 03 May 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

To be honest I don't even know why I'm bothering to write this, as the Breakfst show has long since ceased to offer anything worthy of my viewing time besides the weather forecast.

It's become driven by a Closer-magazine editorial agenda dominated vapid celeb coverage, dieting and whatever form of public health Armageddon is predicted for us by some random 'expert' on a particular day (I noted half-a-dozen of these stories on the last occasion I bothered to watch).

Pick up any of the hundreds of women's glossies and you'll find exactly the same editorial emphasis, which as I've said before is not what the BBC should be about. This isn't 'pop culture', it's trash culture, and you need to start making the distinction. If Mr Kermode wishes to make such a programme surely he'd be better off finding another channel, and not sullying the BBC name with something which until recently would have been considered counter to all the Corporation represented.

Why exactly does Kate Moss deserve your precious airtime? In fact, why on earth is she famous in the first place? For being ridiculously, stupidly thin? Taking drugs? Having a boyfriend who is a convicted dealer and who threw away a promising music career because getting high was more appealing? For a show which seems so intent on relaying to the general public the various terrible risks to our health each morning, your promotion of Ms Moss is at best incongruous, at worst hypocritical.

What a fabulous role model for the type of women who think nothing of camping on pavements and shopping malls just to have the latest look - the sort of people you seem so keen to woo as an organisation.

I would also be interested to know what Topshop - a brand, incidentally, which is mired in controversy for its exploitative overseas manufacturing practices - has given to the corporation in return for a level of promotion which would have cost thousands from any of your commercial rivals.

Personally I'd rather my license fee weren't spent on such things, just as I'd rather it didn't contribute to brainless twaddle like EastEnders, but as the BBC is neither accountable nor democratic when deciding how to spend our money, I suspect my concerns and those of many other viewers will (as always) fall on deaf ears.

  • 15.
  • At 07:41 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Paul Wright wrote:

What I am more concerned with is not the fact that you showed the piece at all (I have given up expecting to see decent "news" as opposed to Tabloid trash on the BBC many years back) but that your reporter had bought a load of the clothes herself.

Would you be able to confirm whether she paid for these out of her own pocket, or whether it was another treat on the BBC credit card?

  • 16.
  • At 09:06 AM on 04 May 2007,
  • Bruce Warr wrote:

The KM story? Yesterdays news,tomorrows fish & chip paper.Forget it & on with the next story ie "local elections" just as boring!!

  • 17.
  • At 05:14 PM on 04 May 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

As once again you've refused to publish my comment (no doubt because it criticises your 'supermarket glossy' approach to news) I shall simply echo what jim-uk (#10) said - the BBC should be providing an alternative news diet in the morning rather than trying to compete with commercial rivals to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

Kate Moss's latest antics can no more be considered 'news' than following someone's attempt to diet themselves to a 'size zero', comparison of the latest anti-wrinkle creams, such-and-such a celeb has been seen falling out of a nightclub, blanket coverage of the Oscars or the barrage of 'experts say that...' science and medical stories (which will inevitably be contradicted within a few weeks anyway). However all of these have featured in the Breakfast show in recent weeks.

Every time you try to justify another piece of barely-concealed tabloid frippery by dressing it up as a high-brow article about 'popular culture', dozens of people express their dislike of an increasingly dumbed-down agenda on this blog. Maybe you, and the BBC as a whole, should start listening to what your viewers actually want.

  • 18.
  • At 11:50 AM on 09 May 2007,
  • Martin Gray wrote:

Yup, I've no interest in Kate Moss. Icon schmicon, has she ever said or done anything interesting? She wears dresses for a living, enough!

(I would like to see Dermot's tie collection, mind)

  • 19.
  • At 02:55 PM on 11 May 2007,
  • aniko donilao wrote:

What I don't get and I don't think I will do -not in the near future anyway- is that the media, including the BBC, are doing what they believe is of an interest to the masses.
Now this is a bit tricky, the masses know nothing about KM or any other until they see a clip on a cheap morning TV show or on other media (who usually have nothing else to talk/show about). To my believe reporters have lost the very meaning of the nature of a report.
As for the comment that KM is “popular culture”, sorry but I don’t buy that. Andy Warhol I will agree that he was “popular culture”. KM? Please…if you think I’m ‘stupid’, (metaphorically speaking, I’m not being extreme or anything) please do keep thinking that way, I do not care. Telling me that my “light mind”/stupidity is a fact, not only me but many other viewers should find the nature of the content of such reports ‘offensive’.
Did you [David K.] and the rest of you in the studio know that there are few hundreds of exhibitions across the capital of all natures, from photography to fine arts to fashion to festivals etc.? (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fun of your morning TV show -not by choice though-) I would have much more enjoyed a report on this weekend's festival preparations etc in Brick Lane in East London or even the fundraising events that are happening across the capital this weekend than a report on KM. I mean people are doing things that REALLY make a huge difference to our little world but we instead upraising those (KM and the like) who’ve done nothing but stand for a couple of minutes on a window display of a shop looking normal. I really cannot be bothered and if I was, I will most certainly not switch to BBC's Morning but to some other "paid per clip" TV channel. This type of report, downgrades the viewers and the channel itself. Needless to say that this type of reports to me work as advert breaks (not necessarily to make money, but to promote the channel to the audience as being on the forefront of “popular culture” and the “what’s hot and what’s not”) and during that time I most certainly prepare my breakfast or feed my fish while is on.

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