Le meilleur et le pire des lignes de mode de célébrités.
Sara Peck, Forbes.com
Date: Saturday Jul. 10, 2010 8:02 AM ET
Madonna is known for constantly reinventing herself, but her latest incarnation--fashion designer--might be the riskiest one yet. On June 22 the musician (along with her daughter, Lourdes) debuted sketches of a glam '80s-inspired line of juniors clothing called Material Girl, which will go on sale at Macy's this August. But celebrity fashion lines (like many celebrity recording careers) often have the lifespan of a gnat, no matter how well-promoted or designed.
Celebrity clothing brands are particularly volatile, because their success is closely tied to one person whose popularity can fluctuate violently. "There's a lot of coming and going, because as their popularity wanes it affects everything else," says independent brand consultant Alycia de Mesa. "Sometimes it's a flash in a pan."
Endorsement deals in the health and beauty industry are rarely more than two or three years, says Rick Dunaj, creator of Dunaj Agency LLC, which brokers deals between stars and the fashion industry. Popularity tends to evaporate at that point. "We know the life of being tied to a celebrity," he says, "and it's not long."
Still, some Hollywood-born labels have managed to survive, including Sean "Diddy" Combs' Sean Jean label, launched in 1998, which has annual sales hovering around $500 million. Jessica Simpson's self-titled shoe and accessories line draws $500 million per year in annual sales. The key to success, experts say, is playing to the "celebrity" factor, while letting the brand breathe on its own.
"Certain brands have managed to do well because they've come back and supported the sub brand, not just their name," says Alycia de Mesa. In short, Rocawear may be a brainchild of Jay-Z, but the business can stand alone without him. Rocawear first appeared in 1999, and its average annual sales are around $700 million.
The most successful celebrity lines tend to have lower price points, mass market appeal and are sold at mainstream chains like Kohl's, Target and Macy's. Higher end clothing, sold exclusively in boutiques and shops like Bloomingdale's, tend to make less overall.
Low prices are no guarantee of success, though--Sarah Jessica Parker's brand, Bitten, was sold exclusively at casual clothing chain Steve & Barry's, and featured only items priced at less than $20. It disappeared in 2008 when the retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
"You can't say today, in this economy, 'We're going to take the money and develop a private label,'" says Bruce Ross, president and CEO of marketing and branding consultancy Celebrity Fashion Group. "The problem is that they can't take the risk and time to develop something out of nothing."
Lauren Conrad, star of MTV's The Hills, saw her fashion career nearly end after a poor run with high-end items sold at Bloomingdale's. After the label was refashioned into a low-cost line for Kohl's, its popularity rose.
"Lauren is a perfect fit for Kohl's," says Ross, whose company worked with Conrad. "Her fan base is younger girls, so Kohl's is the right retailer."
Meanwhile, celebrities must manage their personal image if they hope to see a line succeed: Bad press for a star can mean bad sales for a fledgling brand. Heidi Montag's Heidiwood line for Anchor Blue was discontinued after only one fitful year on the shelves.
"Just because you're a celebrity doesn't mean you should have a line," Ross says. "But if you have the right celebrity and the right business model, it can work."
Source: CTV News.