How Chance the Rapper Landed Starring Role in H&M x Kenzo Campaign

Billboard

Music fans know Chance the Rapper's lyrics, but soon, the world will know the 23-year-old's face just as well. On Oct. 17, H&M will debut its biggest advertising campaign of the year to support its fall designer collaboration with the colorful and cutting-edge Paris fashion house Kenzo, which will see Chance's mug plastered on billboards and in magazines around the world, not to mention a healthy slice of the World Wide Web.

Photographed by Jean-Paul Goude (the legendary photographer who also shot Kim Kardashian's famously revealing Paper magazine cover), Chance joins a lineup of stars including supermodel Iman and actresses Chloe Sevigny and Rosario Dawson, plus 26-year-old Vietnamese rapper Suboi, Academy Award-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez.

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It's a diverse lineup. And that's exactly the point, says Ann-Sofie Johansson, creative advisor at H&M. "When we, together with Kenzo, were thinking about which talents we wanted to be part of the Kenzo x H&M campaign, we wanted to bring together a diverse group of people, talents who have something interesting to say and who have strong personal style," she tells Billboard. "Kenzo x H&M is a collaboration that speaks to the whole world."

Brands like H&M are keener than ever to align themselves with influential music artists, with sponsorship spending on tours and festivals expected to top $1.47 billion this year, up 5.6 percent from 2015 and outpacing every other category, including sports, according to a forecast released by IEG earlier this week.

MAC Presents founder Marcie Allen, who was involved in brokering the deal with Chance's manager Pat Corcoran, alongside the Cara Lewis Group and H&M, says brands are growing increasingly sophisticated about the artists they partner with. While Goude, Iman and the Kenzo brand itself will automatically draw fashion enthusiasts, Chance gives H&M the opportunity to reach an entirely different demographic -- namely, his enormous, and wide-ranging, fanbase. "Brands don't want manufactured artists," she says, adding that Chance, whose  Magnificent Coloring World Tour kicked off in San Diego on Thursday (Sept. 15), was drawn to the collaboration's democratic price point. "He wanted something that [would be] available to all of his fans, not just people who [buy] high fashion."

The collection, which will be revealed in full later this fall, lands in stores and on hm.com on Nov. 3.