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With the help of J. Lindeberg founders Johan and Marcella Lindeberg, Justin Timberlake’s William Rast brand is about to fully clothe some sexy ladies.
This story first appeared in the November 30, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Timberlake and his childhood friend-turned-business partner, Trace Ayala, have teamed up with Paris68, the Lindebergs’ New York-based independent design consultancy, to launch women’s and men’s sportswear collections under the William Rast label. The lines will be ready for fall 2008 selling.
Under the collaboration, the Lindebergs are creative directors (Marcella creating women’s and Johan designing men’s) and are also responsible for all aspects of the sportswear production. The line will be designed to complement Rast’s two-and-a-half-year-old contemporary denim collection, which is sold in high-end department and specialty stores including Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. The denim will continue to be produced by the Rast brand’s parent company, the Los Angeles-based People’s Liberation.
“I have always admired the modern designs and sophisticated aesthetics of Johan and Marcella Lindeberg,” said Timberlake, who has worn J. Lindeberg for years, many times onstage. “I am really excited that we have the chance to develop these strong collections together and that my vision for a complete William Rast lifestyle brand is in the hands of two of my most favorite designers.”
The relationship with the Lindebergs came about after a meeting at a Los Angeles hotel over the summer, which led to talks about a creative collaboration.
“Justin is just a really good Southern boy,” Marcella said. “Everyone who meets him just adores him. He’s smart and has this drive and charisma that makes working with him such a pleasure.”
With that said, Marcella said it has been a challenge to capture the William Rast girl.
“Having Justin in front of you is great, don’t get me wrong,” she said. “But I think that makes it easier to design the men’s wear. The William Rast guy is already defined. There is no real William Rast girl. We had to invent her.”
And invent is what Marcella did. A native of Italy, Marcella admitted she is far from a Southern girl herself, she has never even been to Tennessee, from where both Timberlake and Ayala hail. The guys stressed to the Lindebergs that they wanted the line to be a clear reflection of themselves — where they live today, in Los Angeles, blended with their Southern roots.
“I did a lot of research on Tennessee and while I found a lot about Elvis Presley, I wanted to dig deeper to find more about the state,” she said. “It was very important for me to understand the culture.”
The result will be what she described as a collection of sportswear with a “sexy tomboy attitude,” with intricately constructed T-shirts, tailored jackets, high-waisted skirts and fitted pants. Marcella said she will use a lot of men’s wear fabrics, such as wool herringbone, to create the more feminine silhouettes. Prices haven’t been set but are expected to be in line with the denim, which wholesales between $90 and $100.
“There’s also a lot of silks, but there is nothing sleek about them, they’ve been washed for more of a tough look,” she said.
While the William Rast brand has only been in business for a few years, this isn’t the company’s first attempt at a full sportswear mix. In October 2006, Timberlake and Ayala presented a full collection during Los Angeles Fashion Week. The event turned into the hottest ticket in town, as the show also included a Timberlake performance. Despite the fanfare, the collection never took off, and Ayala said they decided to scale back.
“From the beginning, this brand was meant to be a lifestyle brand; we never really said we were going to be a denim brand,” Ayala said. “But we decided it was best to get the denim right before we decided to move on to the next thing. Now we have a great selling jeans line and we are confident that we are ready to get into sportswear.”
William Rast chief executive officer Colin Dyne declined to give first-year sales estimates for the sportswear, but said, “We are expecting the collection to contribute significantly to our overall sales in the second half of 2008 and more so for 2009.”