In New York for his band Maroon 5’s appearance on “Saturday Night Live,” Adam Levine burned an hour Friday morning previewing his signature Kmart collection, shooting a promo or two and detailing his take on style.
This story first appeared in the October 6, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Gesturing toward a Modernist couch and coffee tables laden with breakfast options in a Mercer Hotel suite, Levine joked, “Welcome to my office.” Nearby, racks of his men’s collection and “The Adam Shop” display of his women’s holiday options left no question as to the meet-up. Short on time and not one to hold back, “The Voice” judge already had firsthand experience in the fashion business, punching the clock in the warehouse of M. Fredric, his father’s Los Angeles company. Looking relaxed in jeans, a T-shirt and one of his printed shawl-neck sweaters, Levine chatted casually while finishing off some yogurt and granola.
Extending his Kmart collection — outerwear and shoes will be offered for men and intimate apparel and more accessories are in the works for women — is also not a reach, he said. “As my father called it, the ‘schmatta’ business, is in my DNA. I never knew my connection to it would manifest in this way. Yet here we are — I have a clothing line.”
Levine said, though, his father does not advise him about fashion. “My father’s nucleus is based around M. Fredric; my career is based around my band. I’m a musician so this feels more like a really fun, new hobby. I’m kind of finding myself as I go.”
Beyond his three-time Grammy-winning band, serving his seventh season as a judge on NBC’s “The Voice” has given the musician a built-in TV following — a good bulk of whom are his targeted 18- to 49-year-old shopper. When Levine wears pieces on NBC’s “The Voice,” the news will be blasted via Amazon, Facebook, Instagram and other social media venues, like when the rocker wore one of his sweaters for promos for his appearance on “SNL” last weekend, according to Andy Hilfiger, who stood in the wings Friday.
Levine’s wife of three months, Behati Prinsloo, a Victoria’s Secret model, is no doubt another knowledgeable fashion source who has been instrumental in helping him develop the women’s apparel.
Prinsloo earned high marks for “doing an amazing job putting her taste [into the women’s line] which I love,” said Levine. “She has an incredibly unique style. She’s effortless, never too much of anything, but basic, elegant, sophisticated and classic, but you never get the feeling that she took too much time trying to figure out what she wanted to put on. That’s always my favorite style — period. Anyone who looks great in what they’re wearing usually has to do with the casual nature with which they chose their outfit. It’s usually because you have a closet of great s–t, you can kind of not think about it. My thing is to have everything that works,” he said. “You can tell when someone is thinking through what they’re wearing too much. And that can be great, but it can also be a disaster.”
In recent days, Levine has faced a different kind of crisis, as women’s rights groups have lambasted his new music video “Animals,” which depicts him stalking his wife. “I’m not going to talk about that right now, sorry,” he said. “It’s too early [referring to the morning interview].”
The 35-year-old budding designer doesn’t think musicians have the impact on fashion that they once did. “Fashion and music used to be much more connected than they are now. In the Sixties and Seventies, the important fashion and the important music were connected. You don’t see it [now] as a part of everyone’s plan,” Levine said. Nondiscriminating when it comes to clothes, Levine said of his style, “Honestly, it can be anything. Brand names don’t matter to me. I’m not a label whore. This isn’t about that. I love certain things that Balenciaga makes and I love certain things that Dickies makes. It’s a case-by-case thing. I can go to an Army Navy store and find something I love and I can also go to Balenciaga and find something that I love. And usually the two are connected in a weird way. A lot of people are going into surplus stores to get inspiration for their labels.”
While his collection is geared for more everyday consumption, Levine said trendsetters tend to always be “the girl or guy who is wearing the thing that people think is really ugly that is what people will be wearing a year from now.” Noting that it won’t be the person who has been wearing a plaid shirt for five years and is wearing something weirder and cooler, Levine added, “Usually, it’s something that was popular 10 or 20 years ago. The cultural feedback loop is constantly bringing things back. It really has to do with who is the least afraid to bring it there.
“There was a time when it was [practically] illegal to wear trucker hats. Now for some reason, I feel that the ban has been lifted. There are things from the Nineties that are starting to become popular again like oversize T-shirts. It just happens. Hawaiian shirts used to be [like] ‘Oh, my uncle wears Tommy Bahama and now they fit well, they’re pretty cool’ and you’ve got guys like Marc Jacobs making them,” Levine said. “Basically, the person who sets the trend is the one who wears what no one would be caught dead wearing.”