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Sears Looks to Kardashians to Amp Up Apparel

The Kardashian Kollection launches exclusively at 400 Sears doors in August with in-store shops.

LOS ANGELES — The Kardashians by Bebe line was apparently just a teaser.

This story first appeared in the January 12, 2011 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The seemingly ubiquitous reality television sisters, Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, are set to unveil merchandise on a bigger retail stage when the Kardashian Kollection launches exclusively at 400 Sears doors in August with in-store shops. The brand, which is produced under license by Australian designer Bruno Schiavi’s Jupi Corp., is a critical component of Sears Holdings Corp.’s strategy to energize its contemporary clothing and accessories segment. The market will get an initial jolt at the store with the introduction of the French Connection-Sears hook-up UK Style by French Connection in March.

“We have spent the past year and a half really looking to build a junior business, and we have been happy about where our junior business has gone,” said John Goodman, executive vice president of apparel and home for Sears Holdings. “Now it is a matter of bringing in a new contemporary customer.”

Kim Kardashian extolled the Sears partnership as a vehicle to “cater to our fans and to make sure that everyone can have access to the Kardashian Kollection.”

Khloe Kardashian added, “Not only do they have locations nationwide, but we recognize that Sears will allow us to reach multigenerations of fans and people who are interested in fabulous clothing at affordable prices.”

Perhaps astonishingly for the red-carpet regulars, Kourtney Kardashian even remarked that the Kardashian sisters are patrons of Sears. “We love Sears. There is a Sears right near our house,” she said. “It’s such a great store that is part of America’s retail history.”

The Kardashian Kollection is aimed at Sears customers ages 17 to 35 and will feature about 40 apparel pieces, 20 lingerie styles, 60 jewelry items, 30 handbags and wallets, 25 hats and gloves and 12 shoe choices that reflect the divergent fashion tastes of Kim, Kourtney and Khloe, which Schiavi described as leaning toward glamorous, bohemian and rocker, respectively. The prices are yet to be determined, but Goodman and Schiavi said they are within the range of other Sears apparel brands.

In its first year at Sears, Schiavi estimated the Kardashian Kollection could generate sales of $200 million to $300 million. He said national television and print advertising and social media outreach would support the launch. The Kardashian sisters are also planning to make appearances at Sears across the nation. Next year, the Kardashian Kollection could be expanded in Sears beyond 400 doors.

The Kardashian Kollection is the latest in a Kardashian fashion and beauty empire that started with the Kardashians by Bebe line, which finishes with resort 2011. Among other things, Kim and mother Kris Jenner are spokeswomen for Skechers’ Shape-ups; the sisters front an apparel line sold on QVC called K-Dash; Kim Kardashian has a namesake perfume and is the face of FusionBeauty’s lip plumpers, and the sibling threesome owns and operates Dash boutiques in Calabasas, Calif., New York and Miami.

Jupi and Sears are convinced the Kardashians aren’t fading from the spotlight anytime soon. “The girls have an amazing following. I think they just keep getting bigger and bigger,” said Goodman.

If the Kardashian Kollection meets expectations, it could help propel an apparel turnaround at Sears.“We view apparel as one of the largest opportunities for growth within the retail mix of Sears,” said Goodman. “Fixing the apparel business is a top priority.”