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Jessica Simpson Expands Her World

Fans of Jessica Simpson may not be able to date John Mayer or snag the lead role in "Blonde Ambition," her movie due out this summer, but come fall they can certainly wear her brand's sunglasses, swimwear and lingerie.

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Fans of Jessica Simpson may not be able to date John Mayer or snag the lead role in “Blonde Ambition,” her movie due out this summer, but come fall they can certainly wear her brand’s sunglasses, swimwear and lingerie.

The pop star/actress, along with her master licensee, the Camuto Group, have signed an array of new licensing agreements, all of which will be ready for fall launches. These categories will add to the Jessica Simpson shoe collection, which has been selling well for slightly over a year at department store and specialty retailers such as Macy’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Bakers.

Simpson said she is completely involved every step of the way.

“It has been rewarding to build this brand and expand it into all aspects of the American lifestyle,” she said.

According to research done by The NPD Group, Simpson had the number-one selling shoe in America in 2006 (a ballerina flat) and Vincent Camuto, chief executive officer of the Camuto Group, said he will ship close to three million pairs of Jessica Simpson branded shoes before the close of this year. Sources close to the company estimate the shoe line alone will bring in $225 million in retail sales in 2007.

With that as a springboard, the company plans to launch outerwear with the New York-based Fleet Street, swimwear with In Gear, eyewear with Colors in Optics, handbags with Trebbianno, costume jewelry with Lydell and lingerie with the Montreal-based Vestiny. Camuto Group will continue to produce the footwear line in-house.

“When we look for a partner, we look for people with integrity, sourcing capability and design understanding to take the brand where we see it,” Camuto said. “This is a young contemporary brand that reflects Jessica’s own style.”

Camuto said that in the future he hopes to launch a full sportswear collection under the Jessica Simpson label. This cannot happen, however, until several lawsuits are settled with Simpson’s former licensee, Tarrant Apparel Group. Simpson faces allegations that she failed to promote her Princy and JS by Jessica Simpson lines. Tarrant sued Simpson and Camuto for $100 million in April 2006. Camuto later filed a countersuit against Tarrant for $100 million. Those suits are still pending, but Camuto sees them being settled soon. Gerard Guez, chairman and founder of Tarrant, declined to comment on any possible settlement.

Camuto said that when they do launch sportswear it will be a line reflective of Simpson’s own wardrobe, but at prices that anyone could afford.

“Jessica is here and 100 percent involved in this brand,” Camuto said. “She will come off a plane from London and sit here for 10 hours approving designs. Nothing gets into the store without her approval. This brand will grow into a complete lifestyle as Jessica sees it.”

Camuto said he is currently looking into signing more licenses for products like fine jewelry, home, stationery and fragrance. He declined to give sales expectations, but said that they are sure to be “in the hundreds of millions.”

Next, the Camuto team is gearing up for the fall ad campaign shoot, which will feature Simpson modeling her new products. The shoot will take place in Los Angeles this weekend, before Simpson heads off to promote “Blonde Ambition,” a modern-day version of “Working Girl,” where she has the lead role alongside Luke Wilson. Also on tap this summer, the company is planning to make a splash at the annual Miami Swim Show in July with a runway show (Simpson will be modeling) and an after party.

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