NEW YORK — Kelly Osbourne and Ali Barone, best friends for four years and business partners for two, have been scouring the fashion shows here this week — but it's for business, not just pleasure.
"I think we've been to about 10 so far and we have a really busy day tomorrow," Osbourne said as she was primped by a hairstylist and a makeup artist in her hotel room Thursday morning. Osbourne said she will walk in the Heatherette show before attending Gwen Stefani's show tonight. "Naomi Campbell also asked me to walk in a show for Hurricane Relief tomorrow, so I'll do that, too."
The pair, who launched their own clothing line, Stiletto Killers, almost two years ago, is doing research for their own show, which they plan for the Bryant Park tents next September.
"Anna Sui let us watch her show from backstage, which was really great of her because we learned a lot from that," Osbourne said.
Barone and Osbourne appear to be taking their business seriously. They began the line two years ago with $10,000 to produce the first group of T-shirts.
"We didn't want to throw a bunch of money into this and then watch it fail," Osbourne said. "So many people have done that….We have friends who have failed at this. We knew we had to start small in order for it to work."
Her partner picked up the thought.
"We are growing organically,'' Barone said. "No licensing. People throw their names on everything these days and we are not into that at all. We literally started this line at the kitchen table one day, sitting there talking about ex-boyfriends and boy-bashing. We thought of sayings like ‘I'm not with stupid anymore' and things like that. We put them on T-shirts and started from there."
Then, Osbourne said, the samples sat in her house for about six months before they did anything with them.
"Our friends started going through them and they were saying how cool they were, so we decided to seriously try to sell them," Osbourne said. "We set up a meeting with Hot Topic and they picked us up. That's really when we began selling."It wasn't always so easy.
"Some stores were really f---ing horrible to us," Osbourne said. "This one woman with a store in Texas wrote us this mean letter basically telling us that our line was s---. Whatever. I wasn't asking for her critique. She didn't have to sell it."
Osbourne said she is sure the negativity toward the line came from her celebrity as a performer and the daughter of rocker Ozzy Osbourne.
"Before anything else, I was known for my clothes," she said. "Every other celebrity with a clothing line hires people to design for them and then just picks what they like from that. The only reason I say that is because I know it's 100 percent true. I don't want to do that because I love clothes and I want to be the one designing them."
And, in fact, she does. She and Barone set up an office in the Los Angeles garment district, and it's the two of them working — from the sketches to the buttons, they do it all.
"I'm in the office every day and when Kelly can't be there, we are in constant communication," Barone said. "We seriously talk 20 times a day."
Today, Stiletto Killers is broken into two groups: the sportswear, which consists of graphic T-shirts (some of the graphics were designed by Barone, others were drawn on a computer), fitted hoodies (with extralong sleeves) and sweatpants (with a higher rise in the back because "I hate when the ass is showing," Osbourne said), wholesaling from $15 to $31. The newer, more expensive extension, called Stiletto Killers Collection, includes a cashmere blend double-breasted jacket, a pencil skirt with a bow on the rear and Fifties-inspired dresses with large buttons and ribbon detailing. That line wholesales from $68 to $210.
"For the collection we use expensive fabrics and the work that goes into it is so much more intense," Barone said. "But this is what we really wanted to do when we started this line. These are the clothes we want to make."
Stiletto Killers is sold in about 100 specialty stores, including the exclusive line designed for Hot Topic. It is also sold on stilettokillers.com. Osbourne said she is sure more stores will pick up the line now that they have a larger range to offer."There are pieces in this line that can be sold everywhere, every store will find something they like," Osbourne said.
"We just need to be able to produce it, so we don't want to get in over our heads," Barone said. "The worst thing you can do is not be able to produce."
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