Vogue’s most famous intern has graduated to his next fashion industry gig.
New York Rangers player Sean Avery has signed a contract with Commonwealth Utilities to serve as a design collaborator and marketing pitchman for the New York-based men’s wear label. Avery has agreed to work with the fledgling designer brand for a year — with the potential for an extension — and will be compensated with a percentage of sales.
This story first appeared in the July 23, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“Hopefully, we’ll sell a lot of clothes and make some money,” Avery said. “But, I’m also hoping that this will allow me to learn a lot about the business. I’ve taken some steps learning about other aspects of this industry and this is where’d I’d like to eventually end up. I’m a fan of Commonwealth Utilities and I think I can do a good job here.”
The sartorially astute Avery made a media splash last year when he was a summer intern at Vogue during the National Hockey League’s off-season. He attended runway shows during New York Fashion Week, including Marc Jacobs and Narciso Rodriguez.
Avery’s interest in fashion is in contrast to his reputation as an aggressive and pugnacious player on the ice. A 2007 poll of his NHL peers named him the “most hated player” in the league.
New Line Cinema is said to be developing a film about Avery’s experiences as a Vogue intern, with the working title “Puckface.”
At Commonwealth Utilities, Avery will first be contributing his design sensibility to the spring collection that will be shown during New York Fashion Week in September. “He’ll be coming in and going over the inspiration and fabrications and overall direction,” said Anthony Keegan, a former Donna Karan design director who cofounded the line with Richard Christiansen last year. “Muse sounds a bit feminine, but that’s what Sean will be to us in a way. He’s hip and cool, and I think he’ll really help us focus our brand.”
Commonwealth Utilities showed its first collection for fall ’09 and the line has been picked up by a dozen stores, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Odin, Fred Segal and Camouflage in the U.S.; Beams and Isetan in Japan; and Matches in London.
The company is owned by Keegan and Christiansen, with the latter also the founder of Chandelier Creative, a boutique New York advertising and branding agency with clients such as Givenchy, Old Navy, Hudson’s Bay Co. and Nars. Lorenzo Martone, fiancé of Marc Jacobs, works as a strategist at the agency.
Avery will likely be featured in an advertising campaign for Commonwealth Utilities, Keegan said. He also will wear the label regularly to help promote it, and when time permits, will help sell the line to retailers. (Rangers training camp starts in September.)
Avery attended a meeting Wednesday with buyers from Holt Renfrew to help push the collection. “I want to get really involved and be very hands-on,” Avery said of his first retail sales meeting. “I think it went well. I think retailers are in a tough situation as far as budgets, and a lot of stores want to be safe, which is frustrating. Hopefully, some of them can be open-minded and realize there are a lot of great young designers that deserve a chance.”