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Britney Spears is cementing her image as a good girl gone bad — and back to good — with her newest role as a fashion designer for the all-American department store Kohl’s.
The retailer will unveil on Thursday a limited edition, co-branded collection from Candie’s, and Spears, who, over the past couple years, has rehabilitated her image from that of a head-shaving, umbrella-wielding, Kevin Federline-divorcing basket case back into a chart-topping pop star who sold out arenas in her highly successful 2009 “Circus” concert tour.
This story first appeared in the June 29, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Iconix Brand Group, which owns Candie’s, tapped Spears last year as the face of the brand, capitalizing on the singer’s comeback from tabloid purgatory as her “Circus” album reached number one and Spears added two more chart-topping singles to her discography, “Womanizer” and “3,” the latter an ode to threesomes. Despite Spears’ checkered image, Kohl’s and Candie’s are betting she can lure her legions of fans — this summer she became the first person ever to reach five million Twitter followers — into stores to buy the new Britney for Candie’s sportswear, handbags and jewelry collections.
“I wanted to design clothes that I would wear and my fans would wear. That was the most important thing to me,” Spears told WWD of her first-ever foray into fashion design. “I wanted to make both daytime casual looks and fun dresses to go out in at night. I met with the design team for Candie’s and Kohl’s, and we started making sketches and designed a line. I got to approve every single piece in the line. It was really a lot of fun.”
The Britney for Candie’s collection is being dubbed a limited edition collection, but it will be available in all 1,067 Kohl’s stores in 49 states. Its relative scarcity will be limited in that reorders will not be available once product sells out. The collection includes three deliveries, in July, September and October, with all merchandise retailing for $14 to $78.
Iconix Brand Group inked its exclusive Candie’s distribution agreement with Menomonee Falls, Wisc.-based Kohl’s in 2004, a deal that was recently extended into 2016. Spears became the celebrity face of Candie’s last year, following a long run of famous spokeswomen for the brand, including Ashlee Simpson, Kelly Clarkson, Fergie and Hayden Panettiere. Spears, 28, has been tabloid fodder over the past decade, known as much for her record-breaking music sales as her erratic personal behavior and questionable taste in fashion — which has ranged from wholesome girlishness to the brazenly provocative, much like her music.
Asked about her approach to designing the line, Spears said: “This collection really represents my personal style. I took pieces from my ‘Circus’ tour and pieces that I wear every day. I love denim, so I made sure to include a lot of jeans. I can’t wait for it to come out.”
Spears emphasized the best piece of fashion advice she’s ever gotten is to “always be comfortable,” and in that spirit the line includes a lot of comfortable basics infused with a fashion edge, such as sleeveless turtleneck dresses, skirts, leggings and oversize cotton tops.
“We are incredibly excited to launch the highly anticipated Britney for Candie’s collection exclusively at Kohl’s stores nationwide and kohls.com for the back-to-school season,” said Julie Gardner, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Kohl’s. “The partnership between Iconix and Britney for the Candie’s Only at Kohl’s campaign continues to evolve in fun and innovative ways, and we are confident this new limited edition collection will resonate with our young customers.”
The Britney for Candie’s collection will be merchandised adjacent to the regular Candie’s deliveries in Kohl’s junior departments, with custom fixtures and signage to draw customer attention. Lanie List, executive vice president of merchandising at Iconix, noted, “The collection is big enough to definitely have a nice-size presentation, but there won’t be a ton of stuff on the floor. Everything has a feminine feel to it, along with a great California, laid-back vibe.”
The launch will be supported by a national marketing campaign that includes television commercials, print ads, outdoor and online initiatives, which first break this week. The campaign features images of Spears wearing her designs, with graphics featuring personal messages in her own handwriting, such as “You’ll love these jeans!” and “Love this skirt for dancing…fun & flirty!” The tag line “Designed by me for you” caps off each advertisement.
The media buy includes youth-oriented cable television, such as MTV, and print titles such as Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, OK, Star and Twist.
“We had a great, successful first year with Britney as the face of Candie’s, and looking at our second year with her, we wanted to freshen up the campaign,” said Dari Marder, chief marketing officer at Iconix. “We talked to her about the idea of her designing a limited edition collection, and she loved it. She had been thinking of doing something more closely in the fashion arena and this was a natural extension of her partnership with Candie’s.”
Additionally, a fashion show hosted by Spears to reveal the line to family and friends was videotaped in Los Angeles earlier this month and will go up on candies.com and kohls.com.
Asked if she hoped to do more designing for either Candie’s or other projects in the future, Spears answered: “Yes, I hope so! I had such a blast designing this line and would love to do it again.”