Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.i.am is launching a men’s wear collection for spring, in partnership with Montreal-based manufacturer Manhattan International. The debut collection, under the i.am label, encompasses about 200 styles, including sportswear, outerwear, hats and bags, at contemporary price points.
This story first appeared in the September 12, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Will.i.am, whose given name is William Adams Jr., gave retailers a first look at the line at the Project Las Vegas show this month.
“Music is my first love, but I’ve always been into fashion,” said Adams, who attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles for one semester before dropping out to pursue a music career. “I’ve always designed my own clothes for music videos, and I’ve been the stylist for the group. I’m just a creative individual and clothing is just another outlet for that creativity.”
The license agreement with Manhattan International is the latest apparel initiative for the Grammy-winning Adams, who previously helmed a small, limited edition men’s and women’s line, also under the i.am label, in collaboration with Black Eyed Peas stylist Lor-e Phillips. The new collection with Manhattan International is replacing that business, according to the company.
Adams also launched a cobranded denim label with Antik Denim in 2007 under the I.am.Antik moniker, but that line was discontinued. The spring i.am collection includes woven shirts that retail for $110 to $120, T-shirts for $60, leather jackets for $550 and hats for $65 to $150. The designs are contemporary in direction, with an overall minimalist aesthetic but embellished with military-inspired details, such as epaulets and twill taping. Other signatures include asymmetric seams and storm flaps.
There are no bottoms in the collection, but a wide focus on tops, outerwear and accessories.
Adams worked on the line with designer Nana Sananikone, who oversees another contemporary men’s and women’s label, called Industry, which is also owned by Manhattan International. The company has set up a new division called I.am Je Suis Inc. to distribute Adams’ line.
“I’m not one of those artists that has someone else design everything for them. I’m very involved,” said Adams, who started the process by going on a three-day scouting trip of London stores with Sananikone this past February.
No retail orders have been confirmed for the line yet, but the company is finalizing sales in the coming weeks, said Sabrina Discenza, brand manager of i.am. “We had a great response at Project, and now our sales managers are working out orders,” she noted.
Discenza called the opportunity to work with Will.i.am an opportunity for Manhattan International. “He has a very specific vision, and he’s a marketing machine,” she noted.
In June, the Black Eyed Peas released one of the best-selling albums of the year, “The E.N.D.,” which included the chart-topping hits “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Gotta Feeling.”