By  on February 5, 2009

As DKNY Jeans’ latest celebrity design collaborator, Hilary Duff is determined to prove her days starring as Lizzie Maguire are long gone.

The 21-year-old actress-singer-designer showed up early for her 11 a.m. meeting at the DKNY Jeans showroom at 240 West 40th St. to discuss her new brand, which she’s calling Femme for DKNY Jeans. She’d just flown in from Los Angeles, and there were no publicists, managers or entourage in tow. She was staying at her friend’s Manhattan apartment, wheeling two suitcases behind her.

“One of the hardest things is to come up with a name,” said Duff of her new line, which she was wearing: a gray fringe T-shirt, leggings and a vest. “But I think Femme works really well and explains the line perfectly as feminine but tough all at the same time. It’s aggressive, but in a good way.”

This isn’t the first time Duff had to come up with a name for her own fashion collection. Five years ago, as a teenager, she launched Stuff by Hilary Duff, which used to produce everything from T-shirts to bedsheets. That line is now being phased out and, with the exception of eyewear, there is no longer product on the market.

“I’ve lost interest in it, and I’m ready to move on and do other things,” she explained of the line, which sold at retailers such as Target, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s. “I feel like the brand was for younger girls, and I want to do things for girls my own age now.”

The partnership with the Liz Claiborne Inc.-owned DKNY Jeans is a big move for Duff — one she plans to be involved in every step of the way. And while she isn’t the first celebrity to partner with the company — Fall Out Boy Pete Wentz was first and actress Rachel Bilson was second — she’s nonetheless dedicated to it.

“I’ve been learning so much about how the process happens from how much certain things cost to shipping schedules — it has been an amazing learning experience,” she said.

The Femme for DKNY Jeans line will launch in stores this fall. And while Wentz’s and Bilson’s collections only sold at retail for one season, the company has signed Duff for two — fall and holiday — with the option to extend the agreement depending on performance.

“From the feedback we’ve gathered from our customers, they wished these collaborations were available to them for a longer period of time,” said Kevin Monogue, president of DKNY Jeans. “They wanted to see more, which is what led us to working with Hilary and making her partnership last longer.”

The collection, which will be sold within the existing DKNY Jeans line, is aimed at the current list of retailers already selling the brand, including Macy’s, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom. However, Monogue said that since the line is priced slightly higher than the regular collection — wholesaling between $19.50 for a T-shirt and $64 for outerwear — he can see it gaining some interest from other higher-end specialty stores. He declined to give volume projections.

The line, which consists of about 10 to 12 pieces for each delivery, is prepared to ship monthly beginning in August and includes an array of sportswear pieces Duff came up with in order to solve her personal fashion dilemmas. There’s a pair of denim jeans with two different-size belt loops — one for a small belt and one for a large, so the wearer can switch up her belt options each time she wears them. There’s also a sweater that comes with a removable cowl-neck, a T-shirt with a removable chain necklace, a butterfly-printed knit wrap sweater made extra long in the front to be easily wrapped as a scarf and a layering camisole with crystal details on the straps, which are meant to be seen when layered correctly.

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