Just when one thought nothing could get weirder about the 20th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson trial, the perennial slacker and professional houseguest Kato Kaelin has chosen to launch a line of unisex loungewear called Kato Potato. The onesies and robes with hoods will feature several pockets for fashion-conscious couch potatoes who like to chow down on Doritos, Lays potato chips and candy bars without leaving the couch.
This story first appeared in the June 19, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The line will be available in basic colors as well as a bright shade of orange, a sort of Freudian spin-off on an “Orange Is the New Black” prison uniform. There will also be a children’s line that Kaelin affectionately describes as “Hot Potatoes,” “Kater Tots” and “Girly Sweet Potatoes.” There will also be a collection of socks with knit-in toes which currently has the working title of “KaToesies.”
The line is being produced by Shear Enterprises. The hope is to sell the collection online as well as on television this fall, although no stockists have yet been signed on.
In an interview, Kaelin is strangely stilted as he laughingly makes fun of his reputation as a slacker, saying, “It’s hard work being a slacker, really hard work being good at it.”
Kaelin — a former stand-up comic — insists that the timing of the launch of the line is “just a coincidence…not profiteering” from the fanfare of a sensational murder known by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. “I had this idea three years ago. I didn’t tie it in to the anniversary,” he insisted.
Kaelin told WWD that, during an earlier interview with Matt Lauer on the “Today” show about the anniversary, he didn’t discuss his loungewear venture “out of respect for the Goldman family,” who were also interviewed on the morning show. The Goldmans’ son, Ronald Goldman, was killed at the home of Nicole Brown Simpson at the same time she was murdered.
Kaelin was in New York on a media tour that included CNN, details.com and a host of tabloids to hawk his apparel. He dropped by the WWD offices on June 12 — the 20-year milestone. In an attempt to crack the ice, Kaelin said, “I don’t know what I’m on.…It must be the caffeine.” He then asked several women passing by, “Oh, are you my date from eHarmony.com?”
Levity aside, Kaelin, who was living in Nicole Brown Simpson’s guesthouse, is asked what he remembers about O.J. Simpson’s former wife.
“She was a wonderful mom with two wonderful kids, the kind of mom who made their school lunches,” he recalled. “They named the family dog, an Akita, after me. Kato the dog — I think that was a sign of affection, a good thing, and also a way of saying. ‘I’m your pet.’ But it came out in the news when the dog died, and people were calling me saying, ‘Kato, we thought you were dead.’”
What was O.J. like?
“Back then, he was very charismatic and people loved this man. He loved to be adulated by people even if they shouted obscenities or spit at him. He saw it as a compliment,” said Kaelin.
Asked if the notoriety of the murder trial affected his life, he replied, “You wouldn’t imagine the ugly comments I still get on social media.”
Kaelin quickly returns to his show-biz spiel, saying his next project will be doing live interviews with holograms of dead celebrities. To be produced by billionaire Alki David, who claims to control the rights to the hologram technology, it’s the same technology that was used at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards in May, where Michael Jackson was “brought back to life” to sing and dance his way through new track “Slave to the Rhythm.”
But isn’t doing live interviews with the dead an oxymoron?
“Oh, it’ll be fun, sort of like that scene in ‘Forrest Gump’ where Tom Hanks is interacting with JFK at the White House,” said Kaelin.