LOS ANGELES — Fox’s “The O.C.” television drama is busy behind the scenes and seams.
The program, set in the affluent fashion realm of Orange County, is imparting that beachside, boho-chic lifestyle to a new line of clothing, to bow in August in tandem with the show’s return to the airwaves for its third season.
But fans won’t find the young contemporary wares at their favorite shopping outpost, such as the South Coast Plaza, or specialty boutiques. Instead, Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the studio behind the show’s production, has licensed the line to Amazon.com. Amazon will buy the collection from New York-based Necessary Objects, which will design it.
Warner Bros. chose to bypass traditional retail channels to reach its Internet-savvy target customers, ages 18 to 34, with “The O.C.” for Amazon.com line. It began courting them with the launch of the Web site, theocinsider.com, last fall, amassing a membership of more than 10,000 people who are willing to pay $24.95 annually. Of that Web audience, 80 percent is female, with an average age of 22. And Warner Bros. believes Amazon has befriended “The O.C.” customer, judging from its brisk sales of DVDs from the show’s first and second seasons, ranking in the site’s top 100 sellers.
“Amazon affords a much broader fan base,” said Lisa Gregorian, senior vice president of television creative services for Warner Bros. Television. “And our audience understands and uses the Internet much more as part of their life compared to other demos.”
Gregorian said Amazon also could provide retail immediacy. She said the show’s characters will wear the line, and should a viewer like what she sees during a broadcast, she can quickly shop online — as she already does for other labels. A recent teen study conducted by media services company Horizon Media noted that 45 percent of teens ages 12 to 19 have made purchases online (referencing Teenage Research Unlimited) and that the most popular items purchased online were clothes.
Incorporating the clothes on the program, which ranked in the top 15 prime-time shows with female viewers ages 12 to 34, also can solidify the cool factor, said Brad Adgate, senior vice president of Horizon Media and the study’s author. “It will take away the question of whether it’s hot or not,” he said. “If it appears on the show, that answers the question.”
Amazon, which draws more than one-quarter of the Internet audience and is best known for books and music, has turned into an apparel seller since it added clothing lines in November 2002. More than 400 sellers and 4,000 brands generate business on the site, including BCBG Max Azria, Guess and Lucky Brand Jeans, said Amazon spokeswoman Kristin Mariani. The e-tailer also has worked with celebrities, including Paris Hilton, whose jewelry line is sold exclusively on the site.
“The O.C.” line will kick off with a 12-piece fall collection featuring men’s wear gauchos and a tie-back vest, a pleated miniskirt, sequined tube tops, a satin gypsy skirt, a gauzy tunic and a burn-out baby-doll top, retailing from $38 to $98. For summer, more beachy items will round out the mix, such as Bermuda shorts and slip dresses, but don’t expect the line to scream surf, said Della Olsher, president of D&E Marketing Group, representing Necessary Objects in the deal.
“We’re focusing on the show and what the characters will be wearing,” she said. “It’s about a fashion lifestyle.”
In a separate deal, Los Angeles-based 2 Love will launch a line of contemporary tops, drawing inspiration from “The O.C.” characters in a licensing deal with Warner Bros.
Instead of just basic crewnecks, 2 Love will use fashion bodies such as the halter, blouson tube top, spaghetti-strap tank and puff-sleeve styles for the summer collection launching in July exclusively at Intuition in West Los Angeles. Kristi Kaylor Schwartz, owner of 2 Love, said the line, which wholesales from $24 to $31, will open up to other retailers for fall.
She worked with the television show’s former costume supervisor, Karla Stevens, in creating the artwork for the lines, including the “Functioning Shopaholic” design with a floaty wedge heel in reference to Summer, who is played by Rachel Bilson.