It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Ryan Seacrest, but his apparel industry partners are standing behind him.
Seacrest has been accused of sexual misconduct by his former personal stylist, Suzie Hardy, a charge that he vehemently denies and that an independent counsel hired by NBCUniversal, parent company of E!, found insufficient evidence to substantiate.
As a result, the entertainment entrepreneur was on the red carpet at the Academy Awards Sunday night for E! and then cohosted a party with Kelly Ripa at the end of the evening. And while some celebrities reportedly avoided speaking to him before the show, others made a point of being supportive.
Ditto for his apparel licensees. Four years ago, Seacrest created Ryan Seacrest Distinction, a line of men’s apparel that started with tailored clothing, furnishings and accessories and has since expanded into sportswear. It is exclusive to Macy’s.
David Katz, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of Randa Accessories, said, “As a major stakeholder in his apparel business, I’m not concerned. We’re 100 percent in and we have no hesitation to continue to commit.”
He added that while he believes it’s “brave and appropriate for women to speak out” against sexual abuse, “I also believe people should be innocent until proven guilty. I’ve been with Ryan on probably 75 different occasions. I’ve seen him exhausted, stressed, late at night and he’s always been a gentleman and completely appropriate.”
In addition, Katz said, “The product has had some of its best sell-throughs in the last two weeks.” He said sales of the Ryan Seacrest Distinction collection may have been lifted by the overall strength of the men’s department at Macy’s in recent weeks, and although final numbers are not yet in for this week, the trend is continuing to be positive.
A spokesperson for Peerless Clothing, which has the license for the tailored clothing, said there is no change in the company’s strategy toward the brand either. Itochu, which has the license for the dress shirts, could not be reached, and Macy’s executives were at a leadership conference in Las Vegas and did not respond to requests for comment. The store’s web site featured a large assortment of merchandise from the collection.
The accusations against Seacrest first surfaced last November and Variety revisited the issue again Feb. 26 when it obtained a copy of the original letter Hardy sent to Seacrest. Earlier that month, Seacrest had written a guest column in the Hollywood Reporter that read in part: “To have my workplace conduct questioned was gut-wrenching.” And despite being cleared of any wrongdoing, he vowed to use his celebrity to “try to help voices be heard. It isn’t lost on me that my platforms — radio, TV, social media — can be powerful conduits for change.”