For its first foray into women’s sportswear, Neff is turning to Jhené Aiko to add some soul and style.
Neff, the Camarillo, Calif.-based company that secured a toehold in the action sports industry with beanies and then extended to watches, eyewear and clothing, is moving beyond T-shirts and hoodies to introduce a capsule collection designed by the R&B artist. Available only at Pacific Sunwear of California, the collection encompasses just 11 pieces, but it includes shorts, tank tops, dresses, jogger pants, halters and other summertime essentials retailing from $22.50 to $60.
“Summer nights are my favorite, when the sky is clear and the stars are most prominent,” Aiko said, adding that her Soul of Summer Collection is “all about the essence of summertime — having fun, being free and being one with the elements.”
Neff is no stranger to celebrity style. In the past year, it’s jammed with Wiz Khalifa, Steve Aoki, Snoop Dogg and Deadmau5 as collaborators on the men’s side. It’s also teaming with former NBA MVP Kevin Durant to launch a men’s underwear brand — partly owned by the Oklahoma City Thunder guard — for this holiday season. Until Aiko, the only feminine touch on its designs came from Scarlett Johansson and Kate Upton, who designed beanies for kids who are undergoing chemotherapy.
“We have a lot of girls buying extra small and small T-shirts on the men’s side and cutting them up,” said Shaun Neff, founder and chief executive officer of Neff. “We decided to make a push.”
Aiko is the latest famous face to give a boost to PacSun’s women’s business. Kendall and Kylie Jenner and Erin Wasson have lent their style to appeal to the chain’s customers aged 17 to 24. Neff estimated that the initial drop of product will generate between $500,000 and $750,000 in retail sales.
Certainly, it doesn’t hurt to tap into a celebrity’s social media. At 27, Aiko counts 826,000 fans on Twitter, 1.1 million on Facebook and 2.3 million on Instagram.
“The way kids receive information is through their phones. Musicians have such a following and they’re style beacons,” Neff said. “For us, it’s just been a natural way to connect to our consumer and create new customers by working with the artist.”
Compared to some of her peers, who responded to Neff’s proposed designs with reactions along the lines of “whatever — it looks cool,” Aiko invested time and effort in the designs.
“Jhené was very involved, down to the fit of the garment and the colorways, and the patterns tied back to her and her personal style,” Neff said. “These are all pieces she likes and wants to wear in her personal life.”