J.LO’S DANGEROUS CURVES
Byline: Elena Romero
NEW YORK — Jennifer Lopez is making her entrance into the fashion world, curves and all.
Lopez and Andy Hilfiger, co-president of Sweetface Fashions, which is producing and marketing the J.Lo by Jennifer Lopez line, are creating a junior sportswear collection that addresses a more curvaceous customer.
It’s a woman Lopez believes has been overlooked, based on personal experience. When shopping for clothes, Lopez said she has often been frustrated by styles that were not made for curvy body types, like hers.
“I design the clothes with the voluptuous woman in mind,” Lopez told WWD. “I think about whether or not I would wear those pants or that shirt and if I will feel comfortable wearing it.”
As creative director for J.Lo, Lopez said she is involved in all aspects of design and marketing.
“I started with a concept in mind and the design team put together looks with my vision,” Lopez said. “At that point, I worked with the team to edit and rework the line. Once a first set of samples were produced, I still went back and made changes until I felt 100 percent about every item in the collection.”
Her first foray is a small line for holiday that will be in better department stores, including units of Federated Department Stores and May Co., Marshall Field’s and Nordstrom’s Chicago division, as well as specialty stores such as Anaheim-based d.e.m.o., Mr. Rags in Long Beach, Calif., Gadzooks of Carrollton, Texas, and Up Against the Wall in Washington, D.C.
J.Lo plans to ship to stores Oct. 25. As reported, the collection is projected to have sales of $100 million in the first 18 months.
Monique Serena, vice president of sales at Sweetface Fashions, said the top seller so far has been an embroidered sweater with a two-way zipper.
“All our feedback from retailers has been very positive,” Serena said. “[J.Lo] can be a great layer onto their existing junior business. Their expectations are really high.”
Serena said stores appreciate that Lopez is involved in all aspects of the line, such as tackling the fit issue.
“The typical junior market is cut straight and we are cutting for a more curvaceous body,” she said. “In bottoms, J.Lo will be offered from [sizes] 1 to 15. In general, we are fairly true to size, but are fuller in the hip and thigh.” In tops and jackets, J.Lo will range from small to extra large, she noted.
The collection is about 25 percent denim and ranges from casual to sporty or sexy looks. Key pieces include fitted and cropped rugby tops, low-rise sweatpants with zipper treatments and small logos, tube tops with a Puerto Rican flag motif, logo glitter tops and stretch cotton printed T’s.
There are also fitted denim outfits with a sparkle J.Lo logo, denim minidresses with silver chain belts and faux-diamond cross pendants, cropped leather motorcycle jackets, sailor pants with back slits and low-rise stretch denim jeans with contrast stitching. Retail price points range from $22 for a T-shirt to $400 for a leather jacket.
Lopez may soon see a familiar face as her competition in the junior market. Ex-beau Sean Combs is actively pursuing a women’s designer to head up his soon-to-launch women’s division.
“Competition is good,” Hilfiger said. “I wish him well. I think he’s got great style and comes up with great stuff. I think there’s room for everybody.
“J.Lo is very diverse, reflecting her broad fan base,” said Hilfiger, noting this includes the hip-hop crowd, young Latinos and fashion afficionados. “We’re not going for one customer in particular, but a base that’s widespread. With our brand, everybody gets to be sexy.”
According to Hilfiger, product placement for J.Lo has already commenced. J.Lo street teams began by distributing flyers and customized bandannas and T-shirts at the recent Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York. In addition, the street team has been assigned to promote J.Lo outside MTV’s “Total Request Live” show on a weekly basis.
Lopez has begun to wear her line at performances and in music videos. In her most recent videos, she is seen wearing her signature lace-up jeans, a white jumpsuit and T-shirt.
“For instance, I just wore the clothes on MTV and the “Today Show” last week,” she said. “I will not wear my clothing exclusively, as I do not wear any designer exclusively. I like to mix things up. That’s what keeps my look fresh. It’s fun to mix fashion pieces with more causal looks.”
In fact, in addition to the regular line, a few made-to-order pieces, which will reflect Lopez’s personal style, will be available every season — at a price, of course. For example, a leather bikini top and bell-bottom pants will cost $2000. These special pieces will be available directly through Sweetface, rather than in retail outlets.
Lopez said her inspiration comes from many places, such as girls and women she’s seen on the street and designers she admires, including Donatella Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, as well as music videos and art.
The singer and actress said the transition from being a trendsetter to a creative director has been smooth.
“I have a great team working with me, making sure that every detail is covered,” she said. “I am very involved in every step of the way, so perhaps, the only challenge is to get it all done.”
Admittedly, being a celebrity going into the clothing business has its pluses and minuses, she noted.
“My name recognition will definitely play a part in getting on people’s radar screens,” she said. “However, the name alone will not sell the clothes. In the end, it’s the design that matters and that is our focus. The name is something to build from.”
So what is Lopez bringing to the table that young women haven’t already gotten?
“A line for real women that is designed by a woman,” she said. “Women are more demanding and I think for that very reason they will embrace the line with open arms. They will have access to clothing that will look good and be comfortable, as well as affordable. Why not? If the designs and fit are right, winning them over shouldn’t be a problem.”
Lopez believes she can make her brand stand out in the crowd.
“I have a point of reference that other designers may not have,” she said. “I think there are a lot of women who will be delighted to find clothes that fit and still look sexy. That for me will be my point of difference from my competition and what will make this brand a destination for women of all shapes and sizes.”
Hilfiger said the sportswear line is just the beginning: “Swimwear is happening. It will be for spring, will ship in December, and will have the same distribution as the apparel collection, as well as swimwear specialty stores.”
As reported, Hilfiger is said to be in negotiations with A&H Sportswear, which makes swimwear under the Backflips, Jones New York, Mainstream, Miracle Suit, Dippers California and Pieces labels. Other brand extensions to follow include footwear and fragrances.
But that’s not all Hilfiger has in mind.
“We’re planning on doing a show at the tents in February,” she said. “It will be right across the street from our showroom.”
The 7,000-square-foot space will be located at 1071 Sixth Avenue, across from Bryant Park, where the 7th on Sixth shows take place. It will house the design team as well as Sweetface Fashions’s corporate offices.
“It will be one floor and will be white and chrome,” Hilfiger said. “We will have hardwood floors and have the same visuals and signage as our shop concepts.”
Lopez added, “In time, I would like to open my own stores. Let’s get a few seasons under our belt and see how the line evolves. I can’t say exactly when, but it’s part of the plan.”