By and  on October 2, 2008

Love it or leave it, celebrity-hood seems to automatically segue into fashion design these days — no questions asked. But who’s really holding their own at retail, especially given the ground-shaking economy?

That’s a question more easily posed than answered in a sector that takes hype to new levels. After all, these singers and actors may be called “designers,” but most of them are just signing apparel deals for the cash and publicity to pump up their record sales or films. Which means there’s no shortage of new names coming into the jam-packed, $3.1 billion category, according to the Licensing Letter — and no shortage of retailers eager to give them a whirl. Even Michael Jackson is said to be jumping in. And why not? His sister Janet just unveiled some innerwear (for a company, not her own). Rihanna is tempted, Matthew McConaughey is planning to add a designer title to his résumé and Natalia Vodianova is collaborating with a French lingerie label. Katie Holmes, Amy Winehouse, the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus are among the many marquee names reportedly looking to leave their stamp on a clothing collection. Then there’s the Texan polygamist sect that drew international attention in the spring when hundreds of children were seized in a raid has launched a line of Laura Ingalls-like prairie dresses, much like the ones worn by its members.

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