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Eve’s motto when it comes to fashion appears to be try, try, try, try again.
This story first appeared in the July 24, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The rapper-actress is launching her Fetish line for the fourth time this holiday season (with a soft launch hitting a select few stores now), and this time she — of course — believes she has it right. Born Eve Jeffers, but known only as Eve, she first added the designer title to her résumé back in 2003 when Fetish hit the junior market. After a rough ride in business, she introduced the collection with the Los Angeles-based Innovo Group, where she experienced production and delivery problems. Then, Eve switched partners and went with Marc Ecko Enterprises in 2004. Shortly after Eve entered the partnership with Ecko, the brand was shelved, with promises to relaunch later.
Later never came with Ecko, but in February 2007 Eve signed with the New York-based Signature Apparel Group, where the brand remains. Under Signature, the Fetish brand relaunched as a young contemporary label, with a collection of leather jackets, cotton T-shirts, jeans and dresses, ready for a holiday 2007 introduction at retail. Again, the collection never took off.
“With the Fetish collection we wanted to put together a stronger retail strategy and with the reluctance of shoppers and the weakened economy, decided that fall 2008 would be a better time for the launch,” said Chris Laurita, president of Signature Apparel. “The fall 2008 collection will be more focused on branding, better product and a more strategic pricing strategy.”
Eve recalled the holiday 2007 line: “We wanted to make sure the line was cohesive and it just wasn’t. It’s not that I didn’t like what we had, but we weren’t happy with it overall. To be honest, a lot of it looked rushed, because it was rushed. We wanted to get back out there since the brand had already been away for so long.”
Today, Eve insisted, it’s a whole different story. To help boost Fetish from a design standpoint, Signature hired Arnold Williams as design director. The London native has a seasoned history in design, having worked at Versace before moving onto LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, where he worked at Loewe, designing alongside Narciso Rodriguez. Williams left Loewe to start his own line, which he closed in order to work at John Varvatos. Then, he said, he heard about Fetish.
“I knew of the brand and I felt that it really had legs, it just needed to be reawakened,” Williams said. “I got in touch with Signature and told them how I thought it could be taken to the next level.”
Williams said that he was eager to take his experience in high-end fashion design and apply it to a young contemporary brand. He started working with the company earlier this year and began planning for a holiday 2008 relaunch of Fetish.
“The infrastructure is there, we just needed to find what we stand for in the market and create something for people to rely on,” he stressed. “We needed to have a bread-and-butter part of the line, we needed to own that jeans and T-shirt area, and our pieces had to be identifiable so that when the logo is removed, people will know it’s Fetish.”
The collection now includes a full array of jeans with cleaned-up washes and subtle logos located on the interior waistband, rather then on the outside back pocket. There are fitted graphic T-shirts, tunics with sequin details (one with an oversize paw print on the front, clearly inspired by Eve’s signature tattoos), fitted jackets, jersey dresses with beading details and a series of sexy tops, made to go with jeans.
Eve, who is currently in Michigan filming the movie, “Whip It,” with Drew Barrymore (who is also directing), couldn’t be happier.
“Arnold is so good,” she said. “His attention to detail is amazing, he is teaching me so much, and he brings this fresh energy to Fetish.”
The line, which wholesales between $12 for a T-shirt and $178 for a leather jacket, has already been picked up by Macy’s, Up Against the Wall, Against All Odds and Jimmy Jazz. It will also be available on thefetishcollection.com.
Eve and Laurita declined comment on first-year sales expectations for the relaunch, but sources close to the company said the brand should bring in about $10 million in wholesale volume in its first year at retail.
Eve was far from the first celebrity to become a designer, and there are increasing signs the market for celebrity apparel might be both oversaturated and stagnating given the weak economy. Eve is joining a slew of stars who have had mixed success in the fashion game by launching their own collections. Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé Knowles, Jay-Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Gwen Stefani were among the first, but today, the list of celebrity designers has grown to include Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Justin Timberlake, LL Cool J, Kristin Davis, Jessica Simpson, Pamela Anderson, Jaime Pressly, Hilary Duff, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amanda Bynes, Mandy Moore, Victoria Beckham, Sheryl Crow, Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag and Kim Kardashian.�