It's almost go time for a new round of delebrities — celebrities as designers.
The trend doesn't seem to be slowing, as the newest crop of actors and entertainers prepare to enter the industry and unveil their lines for fall. LL Cool J will hit Sears stores with a full range of apparel for juniors, young men and children; Avril Lavigne will launch her Abbey Dawn line at Kohl's; Rachel Bilson's Edie Rose for DKNY Jeans brand will take the floor at department stores, and Kristin Davis will soon be selling her line on the better floor at Belk.
While the track record of celebrity apparel lines has been filled with missteps — Jennifer Lopez's collection has gone through numerous iterations; Beyoncé Knowles' House of Deréon line had a slow start; Eve's Fetish collection never succeeded, and Diddy's women's line never got off the ground — the allure of the category hasn't dimmed. Retailers are responding by securing these personalities with exclusive lines intended to generate buzz for the stores.
"From Wet Seal to J.C. Penney, stores are all looking for the next big thing to be able to bring in new customers," said Michelle Roback, a sales executive with Jerry Leigh, a licensing firm in Los Angeles that had a major role in the deal between Lavigne and Kohl's. "Bringing in this sort of talent can certainly do that for these stores."
But the forecast is mixed as to how these brands will perform once they hit the sales floors.
"Avril has her own funky style....But I'm not sure I could see her making supergirly dresses if the trends move in that direction, so I really don't see this brand as a long-term thing," said Lisa Chase, founder of CelebrityEverything.com, a Web site for the celebrity-obsessed crowd.
Chase sees LL Cool J working well for guys, since he "has the best pecs in Hollywood." However, she isn't sure a junior apparel line from LL Cool J would work quite the same way.
"With all the competition out there, I really can't see girls seeking out clothing from LL Cool J for themselves to wear," she said. "Rachel Bilson, on the other hand, is a modern classic. She has great style and girls will want to dress like her. I could see her line lasting a long time."
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