What do fashion brands sound like?

The state of sound branding in the fashion & luxury industry.

The process of selecting a soundtrack is an intricate symphony of choices, influenced by technical and intangible factors. It blends acoustics, composition, and the psychology of perception, focusing not just on the sound itself, but on how it feels, especially when associated with a brand or product.

We explore how pioneering fashion brands use music to express their core values and ethos, and how auditory elements, often secondary in consideration, enhance their narrative.

Our research includes a quick but deep dive into the soundtracks used by brands from Forbes' Most Valuable Brands and Lyst's 2023 Q4 recap. Using machine learning algorithms, we uncover the tempos, keys, scales, genres, and moods that form the foundation of their communication strategies.

This exploration is a modest foray into the audio nuances of an industry typically dominated by visual elements, intended to start a conversation about the creative uniformity often found therein. Sound branding, a vibrant topic in various sectors, takes an interesting turn when applied to fashion, known for its individuality and innovation.

Industry Overview

Genres & Styles

Electronic music stands out as the predominant genre in many campaigns, notably overshadowing other genres like Rock and Classical. While Latin and Reggae make occasional appearances, their presence is relatively minor. The Children's genre, is primarily found in brands with a kidswear line, such as Dior, and in certain festive soundtracks that share similar characteristics.

Ambient music, a sub-genre of Electronic, is notably more prevalent, likely due to its emotionally resonant and adaptable nature. Other popular styles we've noticed include House, Techno, Downtempo, and Synth-pop. On the flip side, niches like Baroque Classical and Acid Jazz are less common in our findings but still significant, considering the diversity of over 400 genres analyzed.

It's important to note that Ambient is a broad category and may be more easily identified by our model. In contrast, genres like Techno, House, and Jazz are more specifically categorized. When we combine various subgenres of Techno, it ranks as the second most popular. Furthermore, if we group all club-oriented music genres (like Techno, House, DnB, etc.), we find that Ambient and Club music are almost equally dominant, leading the trends in fashion branding.

By isolating unique patterns and removing the industry-wide baseline, we can identify a 'Signature Style' for each brand. This style, often the third or fourth most used for a brand, acts as an acoustic fingerprint. For instance, Chanel is synonymous with Synth-pop, Prada with Techno, and Bottega Veneta with Renaissance/Classical music.

Most Prominent Genres
Most Prominent Styles
Signature Styles
Louis VuittonHouse
GucciTropical House
Miu MiuTechno
Bottega VenetaRenaissance
Saint LaurentNeo-Classical
BurberryNew Age
Top 100 Styles
  • Electronic
  • Ambient
  • Experimental
  • Classical
  • Rock
  • Non-Music
  • House
  • Techno
  • Downtempo
  • Stage & Screen
  • Synth-pop
  • Hip Hop
  • Pop
  • Deep House
  • Contemporary
  • Electro
  • Soundtrack
  • Jazz
  • Folk, World, & Country
  • Neo-Classical
  • Pop Rock
  • Disco
  • Latin
  • Baroque
  • Abstract
  • Neo-Romantic
  • Funk / Soul
  • Industrial
  • Tropical House
  • Audiobook
  • Dub Techno
  • Indie Rock
  • Berlin-School
  • Glitch
  • Alternative Rock
  • Deep Techno
  • Drone
  • New Age
  • Vocal
  • Modern
  • Nu-Disco
  • Cloud Rap
  • Easy Listening
  • Romantic
  • Progressive House
  • Classical
  • Post-Modern
  • Synthwave
  • Musique Concrète
  • Trance
  • Trap
  • Minimal
  • New Wave
  • Euro-Disco
  • Folk
  • Dungeon Synth
  • New Beat
  • Drum n Bass
  • Indian Classical
  • Italo-Disco
  • Halftime
  • Progressive Breaks
  • IDM
  • Noise
  • Comedy
  • Tech House
  • Grime
  • Vaporwave
  • Sound Collage
  • Electro House
  • Impressionist
  • Poetry
  • Bassline
  • Psychedelic Rock
  • Acid
  • Post-Punk
  • Dream Pop
  • Euro House
  • Dance-pop
  • Tech Trance
  • Chillwave
  • Ballad
  • Dark Ambient
  • Disco
  • Trip Hop
  • Electroclash
  • Hi NRG
  • Coldwave
  • Brit Pop
  • Dubstep
  • Hardcore
  • Bubblegum
  • Goth Rock
  • Mariachi
  • Chanson
  • Darkwave
  • Beat
  • Minimal Techno
  • EBM
  • Punk


We utilized an open collection of over 55,000 songs, to analyze the moods in brand soundtracks. Our model cross-references these with tags from content uploaders, giving us insight into the emotional tones that fashion brands use to engage their audiences.

Our findings show that 'Relaxing', 'Energetic', and 'Dark' are the most prevalent moods in these campaigns. This suggests that fashion brands are tapping into these specific emotional qualities to align with their themes and aesthetics. For instance, 'Relaxing' music might be used to evoke a sense of luxury and comfort, 'Energetic' to create a vibe of excitement and action, and 'Dark' to add an element of sophistication and intrigue.

Other notable themes include 'Documentary', often linked with behind-the-scenes content, and 'Emotional', which likely aims to forge a stronger connection with viewers. The use of 'Romantic' and 'Happy' underscores efforts to evoke joy and affection, key elements in storytelling within advertisements.

While not as dominant, 'Love' and 'Meditative' indicate a trend towards introspection and tenderness in some campaigns. On the other hand, 'Epic' and 'Dream' moods are less common, pointing to their niche use in fashion advertising, possibly for brands that embrace an avant-garde or conceptual identity.

Overall, this data reveals a preference for specific moods and an overall limited emotional range.

Most Prominent Moods


The synthesizer, with its vast expressive capabilities, stands out as the most utilized instrument, aligning with the preference for Electronic and Ambient music. Bass and drums, known for their versatility, are also frequently used across various styles.

Piano and guitar, both in their electric and acoustic forms, are commonly found, reflecting a fusion of classic and contemporary musical elements that suit the diverse themes of different brands.

Deeper in the mix, we find a range of instruments like violins and other string instruments. The human voice, used both lyrically and as an instrument, ranks at number ten. Unique instruments such as the flute, drum machine, and cello contribute specific textures and moods. The grandeur of an orchestra and the deep tones of a double bass are often utilized in upscale or dramatic campaigns.

Instruments like the harp, oboe, and electric piano, while less common, indicate their specific niche roles in certain campaigns.

Interestingly, Versace and Saint Laurent showed a distinct preference for piano-like sounds over synthesizer tones. However, it's important to note that our analysis for Versace was based on just four months of data due to their reset of social media pages, which could affect the comprehensiveness of our findings. Other brands generally followed a standard pattern, reflecting the broader industry trend in their choice of instruments.

Most Prominent Instruments


Tempos, measured in beats per minute (BPM), showed a notable consistency across various brands, with the industry average hovering around 122 BPM. Brand-specific averages varied within a narrow range, typically from the high 110s to the low 130s, reflecting the diverse campaign styles of each brand. Brands like Burberry and Saint Laurent, which tend to steer clear of beat-heavy genres, often balance this with more energetic tempos.

Average Tempos


As expected, a wide variety of musical keys are used in fashion brand ad campaigns, though certain keys are more favored. C major and A minor, for example, are particularly prevalent. This could be due to their specific emotional resonance or aesthetic compatibility with the brands' images. It's also worth noting that these keys are commonly used in popular music, which might contribute to their prevalence. Interestingly, minor keys account for about 58% of the preferred choices, aligning with the general statistics for many brands. Brands like Gucci and Burberry show a deviation from this trend, exhibiting a higher inclination towards major keys in their campaigns.

Scale Distribution
Key Distribution

Our analysis, highlighting the dominance of certain genres, tempos, and musical keys, suggests many brands are choosing a safe, familiar path. This trend overlooks the untapped potential of utilizing diverse and distinct soundscapes for differentiation. The industry's preference for Synthesizer sounds, specific keys, and consistent tempos outlines current trends, but also signals a possible stagnation of creative exploration.

Shifting to a distinctive auditory identity can foster innovative strategies, reinforcing each brand's unique story in a bustling marketplace. Brands can carve out a memorable identity by stressing their stylistic choices and investigating new genres, tempos, and instruments in line with their visual ID. Such an approach can escalate the emotional depth and storytelling of campaigns, thereby appealing to a larger audience.

While some brands may already be venturing into this multisensory approach, we encourage a deeper exploration. There is opportunity to translate this creative spirit into their auditory narratives as well.

These quick stats are only scratching the surface. If you're interested in this conversation, or ways to make your brand stand out, get in touch.