Famous people have long set the tone for what’s in fashion, but their platform was limited to red carpets and catwalks, with celebrities and models signing on to brands as spokespeople. Fast forward to the digital era, with social media and direct-to-consumer online brands, and it only makes sense that many celebrities have removed the middleman — the brands and retailers that once exclusively housed the goods between four walls — and created their own clothing lines. The shift means celebrities have more power and influence over consumer shopping preferences, style trends and cultural conversations than ever before.
WWD took a look at some of the notable celebrity brands from the last year.
Kim Kardashian West
The television personality and entrepreneur has had a very busy year. Following the launch of her shapewear and intimates brand Skims in the fall of 2019, the brand has continued to grow rapidly. In April, the brand opened a pop-up shop in The Groove, the shopping and entertainment complex in Los Angeles, telling WWD at the time that permanent brick-and-mortar stores were likely coming in 2022. The star also said online sales quadrupled in the last year, so much so that she had to hire more staff. (The first batch of Skims, in September 2019, was rumored to sell out in minutes, generating an estimated $2 million in revenues.) Then in June, it was revealed that the Skims brand would be making underwear for Team USA for the summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Most recently, Kardashian West partnered with Kim Jones, artistic director at luxury fashion house Fendi, for a capsule collection that included everything from shapewear and lingerie to rtw and outerwear. In November, Fendi x Skims pop-up shops opened in several cities around the world, including Los Angeles, London, Dubai, Seoul, New York, Miami and Toronto, among others, many of which were reported to have had hours-long wait times for consumers to experience the products IRL.
Perhaps no celebrity name is more synonymous with fashion right now than Rihanna. There’s the multihyphenated star’s partnership with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which made her the first Black woman to head a luxury fashion house. (The rtw venture is currently on hiatus.)
There’s Fenty Beauty, which Rihanna launched in 2017, with what, at the time, had an unprecedented 40 shades of foundation. The following year came the size-inclusive Savage x Fenty lingerie brand, a co-creation with TechStyles Fashion Group, the same firm that launched Kate Hudson’s Fabletics, promising to deliver a lingerie brand for all body types.
The intimates business continues to gain traction in the innerworld, with the third installment of the much-watched fashion show, Savage x Fenty Vol. 3, airing on Amazon Prime in September. (Men’s basics were added to the assortment in September 2020.)
Rumors began circulating three months later that the fashion entrepreneur was courting potential investors to the tune of $100 million in an effort to expand the Savage x Fenty business with activewear. In early 2021, the Savage x Fenty business completed a $115 million Series B round led by LVMH-backed private equity firm L Catterton to help the lingerie brand scale.
There’s also talk of Savage x Fenty brick-and-mortar stores coming in 2022, although representatives for the business would not say where. Sources inside the company did say, however, that TechStyle spun off Savage x Fenty as an independent, stand-alone firm at the end of 2019 while also closing the lingerie brand’s series A round of investments.
The rapper, entrepreneur, presidential hopeful — and soon-to-be ex-husband of Kardashian West — has made quite an impact on the fashion industry. He began working with Nike in the early Aughts, as well as Louis Vuitton, creating streetwear and footwear, roughly a decade later. But it wasn’t until 2015, when West collaborated with Adidas for Yeezy Season 1, that his fashion career really began to take off.
While the initial response from the apparel collection was mixed, West’s Yeezy sneakers have since gone for thousands of dollars on resale sites, while looks created for Kardashian West have routinely been re-created by fast-fashion brands. In 2019, during an event in New York City, West said he has “100 percent ownership at Yeezy,” although Adidas did not confirm.
In 2020, West struck a 10-year deal with Gap Inc. to create a line of Yeezy apparel, the first of which — a puffy blue jacket retailing for $200 — debuted over the summer. In November, Gap Inc. chief executive officer Sonia Syngal told analysts during the company’s quarterly conference call that more Yeezy hoodies were sold online in a single day than any other item in Gap’s history.
Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has been hard at work on her activewear brand Ivy Park, which she cofounded in 2016 with Topshop and Parkwood Ventures, the corporate wing of Beyoncé’s creative company, Parkwood Entertainment.
After sexual assault allegations surfaced in 2018 around Sir Philip Green, then Topshop’s CEO — which he denied — the singer, songwriter and entrepreneur took over full ownership of the business, buying all of Green’s shares.
The following year, the star took the brand to Adidas, with the first collection launching in January 2020. In November of this year, Ivy Park x Adidas unveiled its fifth collection, dubbed “Halls of Ivy.” That same month, the twosome debuted its first first capsule collection of apparel and footwear with Peloton.
Also this fall, Beyoncé hired former Goldman Sachs banker Janki Lalani Gandhi as managing director of Parkwood, which was founded in 2013, to oversee investments, finance and strategy.
The reality star, entrepreneur and younger sister of Kardashian West launched her swimwear brand Kylie Swim in September, growing the brand’s Instagram account to nearly 1 million followers in just a few months and selling out of many items online.
Jenner also co-runs the fashion label Kendall + Kylie with her older sister Kendall Jenner. (Kendall Jenner was also named creative director of fashion e-tailer Revolve’s luxury platform Fwrd in September.)
In addition, the youngest Jenner launched makeup brand Kylie Cosmetics in 2015 and a secondary beauty brand, Kylie Skin, in 2019. That same year, Jenner signed a deal with Coty Inc., which purchased a 51 percent majority stake in the beauty brand for $600 million. This valued Kylie Cosmetics at $1.2 billion. Coty relaunched the brand in July, now offering vegan formulas and updated packaging.
Khloé is another member of the Kardashian clan who has been hard at work in the fashion industry, founding Los Angeles-based Good American with Emma Grede — wife of investor Jens Grede — in 2016 with the tag line “representing body acceptance.” The business famously racked up $1 million in sales its first hour.
Even during the pandemic, as consumers hunkered down at home, Good American continued to scale. In December 2020, Grede told WWD that the brand had 78 percent revenue growth, year-over-year. That same month the company unveiled footwear.
The actress and producer launched the lifestyle brand Draper James in 2015. Five years later, Draper James teamed up with Lands’ End for a collection of women’s swimwear to help the business scale. The following year, the two firms reunited, adding sleepwear, loungewear, home goods and even pet products to the mix.
In October, Draper James revealed that it was partnering with the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tenn., to introduce a new staff wardrobe, custom-designed by Draper James exclusively for the hotel.
Most recently, Draper James said it is working with Kohl’s for a capsule collection, coming in February 2022. The Draper James line is currently sold on its e-commerce site, as well as at four freestanding stores in Nashville, Lexington, Ky., Atlanta and The Galleria in Houston.
The professional football star is joining his wife, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, in the fashion arena. The seven-time Super Bowl winner has partnered with entrepreneur and investor Jens Grede, as well as designer and cofounder of apparel brand Public School, NYC Dao-Yi Chow, for a men’s wear brand called Brandy.
Jessica Simpson is charting her path forward in the fashion industry. This fall, the singer, media personality and designer bought back her nameplate brand from Sequential Brands Group, along with her mother Tina Simpson, as reported by WWD.
In November, the deal closed for the Simpsons to repurchase the Jessica Simpson Collection from Sequential Brands Group — which previously owned 62.5 percent of the Jessica Simpson brand — for $65 million. Sequential Brands filed for bankruptcy in August and had been looking to sell off assets. The deal makes the Simpson duo 100 percent brand owners.
The mother-and-daughter business partners said their priorities include expanding into skin care, health and wellness, demi-fine jewelry and more home goods. Brick-and-mortar retail stores and international expansion are also on the horizon. That’s in addition to the 32 product categories that already exist within the lifestyle brand, including footwear, apparel, accessories, fragrance, girls’ clothing and home goods. In summer 2019, an activewear relaunch was added to the mix. Collections can be found at Macy’s, Belk, Dillard’s and Nordstrom, among others, in addition to the e-commerce shop.
Pre-pandemic, the Simpson brand was rumored to be generating roughly $1 billion in retail sales. This year, the business anticipates between $700 million and $750 million in revenues.
The Simpson brand was founded in 2005 with Simpson’s mother and younger sister, Ashlee Simpson Ross, as business partners. The Camuto Group purchased the brand the same year for $15 million, helping grow it to $1 billion in retail sales. The brand changed hands in again 2015, shortly after designer Vince Camuto’s death, when the Camuto Group sold it to Sequential Brands for $117.5 million in cash.
Jaden Smith, the son of actors Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, is making waves in his own right among the fashion set. The younger Smith has his own line of gender-neutral apparel, called MSFTSrep (pronounced Misfits Republic), which features a variety of hoodies, T-shirts and sweats.
In March, the brand presented its fall collection on Pitti Connect, Pitti Uomo’s digital platform. Then in September, the rapper, designer and actor celebrated MSFTSrep’s fall 2021 collection and his New Balance Vision Racer collaboration at London’s Selfridges with a one-off performance. (Smith previously collaborated with the British department store in September 2019 for a pop-up shop.)
The actress and daughter of Hollywood royalty Goldie Hawn is no stranger to the fashion industry. Aside from regularly being photographed front row at A-list fashion shows, she also has a list of her own brands, including Fabletics, supplement and wellness brand InBloom and vodka company King St. Vodka.
The former is an activewear line that was founded in 2013 alongside Adam Goldenberg and Don Ressler, under the TechStyle Fashion Group. Fabletics — which began as a direct-to-consumer activewear apparel and accessories brand, operating on a subscription model — has since grown to include loungewear; Fabletics Fit, an app that offers on-demand workouts and meditation classes; resale by way of a partnership with ThredUp, and about 75 brick-and-mortar locations around the U.S. Shoppers can also purchase products a-la-carte by way of the e-commerce shop.
There’s also talk of an IPO. In March, Fabletics revealed that it had surpassed more than $500 million in annual revenues and was courting investors with plans to go public. In July, the business hired Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Barclays and Bank of America to help. Fabletics is hoping to raise $500 million in an initial public offering, which would bring the company’s value to around $5 billion.
Hudson also cofounded and designed Happy x Nature, a rtw line pronounced “Happy by nature,” in spring 2019. The brand shut down a year later, during the pandemic, after parent company Retailwinds, which also owns New York & Company, filed for bankruptcy.
Serena and Venus Williams
The celebrity fashion court may be competitive, but it’s no match for the Williams sisters. In fact, the professional tennis stars have become known for their fashion sense both on and off the tournament circuit.
Serena launched her own apparel and accessories brand, S by Serena, in 2018, following her work with Nike and the Home Shopping Network. She also scored an exclusive partnership with Zales over the summer, which means the national retailer will be the exclusive brick-and-mortar carrier of the nameplate jewelry brand she founded in 2019.
Most recently, the younger Williams has teamed up with Nike yet again, this time for the Nike x Serena Williams Design Crew incubator. The program allows young, emerging designers from underrepresented backgrounds to help Serena craft the latest collection with Nike, dubbed the “The Nike x Serena Williams Design Crew collection.” Under the guidance of Serena and other seasoned retail veterans, emerging designers can learn the ropes of the industry and possibly gain full-time employment at the end of the mentorship.
But the older Williams sister is also in on the fashion game. Venus Williams started EleVen, a lifestyle and activewear brand in 2007. In October, the brand released its third limited-edition footwear and apparel collaboration with K-Swiss, available on the EleVen website. (In November 2020, Venus was named a global ambassador for K-Swiss.)
She’s also partnered with Carbon38 for a tennis collection and owns a full-service commercial and residential interior design firm, V Starr, as well as a plant-based protein company Happy Viking. In 2019, Venus began investing in Asutra, a wellness and beauty brand.
The original flower child is no stranger to entrepreneurship. Barrymore launched Flower Beauty at Walmart in 2013 (it is now available in an online shop as well and includes home goods), followed by her lifestyle brand Dear Drew on Amazon four years later.
The pandemic didn’t slow her down either. In September 2020, the actress and producer launched her daytime talk show, “The Drew Barrymore Show” on CBS, launched her own lifestyle magazine and was named creative director of beauty brand Garnier in February.
No list of celebrity fashion would be complete without mentioning Victoria Beckham. The former Spice Girl launched her nameplate fashion brand in the early Aughts, after working as a model. In 2011 came Victoria, Victoria Beckham brand, or VVB, a lifestyle collection with more accessible price points. Victoria Beckham Beauty rolled out eight years later. The British designer has also collaborated with Target on a line of affordably priced clothing.
Most recently, in October, Beckham’s brand teamed up with The Woolmark company to launch its first end-to-end traceable collection of knitwear.
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