Retailers and apparel vendors are scrambling to get Michael Jackson merchandise into stores to capitalize on fans’ hunger for a piece of the iconic pop star who was honored Tuesday at a two-hour memorial service in Los Angeles.
Several stores said they have been inundated by requests for Jackson items. T-shirts were the most coveted apparel picks, although consumers gravitated toward shoes, jackets and gloves emblematic of Jackson’s style, as well.
Betsy McLaughlin, chief executive officer of Hot Topic Inc., said two licensed men’s T-shirts and one women’s T are scheduled to be delivered to the City of Industry, Calif.-based teen retailer within the next week. “Most of what is available now at retail is unlicensed, bootleg product, which we will not carry as it hurts the artist,” she said.
Stephen Donnelly, vice president and general merchandising manager of women’s apparel at Kmart, said after Jackson’s death on June 25: “We got a small shipment of Ts to a limited number of stores within one week. We are continuing to react to customer demand with more T-shirt deliveries this week, and will be looking at additional merchandise in-store and online as needed.”
The staying power of the demand for Jackson-themed apparel was uncertain, but the spike in interest for his music is likely to remain front and center for a prolonged period.
Kitson in Los Angeles has carried shirts with a likeness of Jackson for months, and owner Fraser Ross said the apparel is “just flying off the shelves in men’s and women’s.…There’s a really fine line between capitalizing on someone’s death and giving fans what they want as a tribute.”
Contemporary designer Allen Schwartz of A.B.S. was already shipping Jackson-inspired band jackets when the entertainer died. The A.B.S. jacket, in black or red gabardine with gold trim and epaulets, retails for $285 and Schwartz said he plans to double or triple the projections. “I saw the trend developing two months ago, and now I plan to build on it,” Schwartz said. “His passing will have a huge impact on fashion.”
Target experienced a “significant” increase in sales of the three Michael Jackson albums it carries, said Joshua Thomas, a spokesman.
“We instructed stores to bring them to the front of the aisle where you only find new releases,” he said. “In mid-July we will possibly bring in other products across the store. What we’re seeing, as retailers across the industry, is an appreciation of his musical talent from a wide variety of audiences.”
Jackson’s untimely death, his unusual lifestyle, legal battles and complicated licensing matters could present challenges.
Michael Stone, president and ceo of Beanstalk Group, which manages licenses for the Andy Warhol Foundation, Samsonite and L.L. Bean, said not all retailers want to be associated with Jackson.
“If they were to focus on building and enhancing his musical legacy, over time people will forget about [the other stuff],” he said. “In the near term, there will be retailers that will steer clear of Michael Jackson.”
“It’s going to be a long time before [the estate] figures out who controls the rights and what they want to do with them,” Stone said. “In the meantime, there [are] counterfeiters and infringers all over the place.”
But Tuesday was about mourning Jackson, who was celebrated during an emotional service at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Although police said hundreds of thousands of fans could descend on the district, people heeded the warnings and the throngs did not show up. However, anticipating larger numbers, many fashion industry employees stayed away from their downtown offices.
Inside the Staples Center, celebrities such as Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Brooke Shields, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, John Mayer, Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder sang and spoke about the star. Jackson’s brothers wore Versace black suits, white shirts and gold ties. Sister La Toya Jackson wore a black pantsuit and Janet Jackson was in a black dress with white piping from the Italian house.
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews