LOS ANGELES — Actor and television host Mario Lopez is stepping into the apparel business with the launch of RatedM, an underwear line produced in partnership with 2(x)ist co-creator Mike Tawil under his new company Mad Projects Industries LLC.
This story first appeared in the December 8, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The line launched on e-commerce site Freshpair.com last week and will enter select Bloomingdale’s stores in February.
Lopez, who flaunted his fit physique playing Olympic diver Greg Louganis on television and as a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” is a fashion fan who’s been approached with spokesmodel offers for other underwear lines in the past.
“I’d always wanted to get into the apparel and fitness world, and I thought, ‘Why don’t I just start my own?’” said Lopez from the set of his day job as host of “Extra.”
Meanwhile, Tawil, a former partner at H. Best Ltd., which launched 2(x)ist and produced licensed underwear for Levi’s, Joseph Abboud and DKNY, was searching for a celebrity partner with whom to launch a new line.
“It made sense to launch this with Mario,” said Tawil. “He’s a hard worker who cares about his body and how he looks. When we met him we could see why people love him.”
Tawil had worked with personalities such as NFL star Jason Sehorn for marketing campaigns in the past, but RatedM marks his first time partnering with a celebrity who has a financial stake in the brand. “We are putting a major thrust on growing this into a lifestyle brand much more than previous lines, so it involved rethinking everything from the logo to the sensibility. It necessitated finding the perfect partner,” he said.
The line, ranging from $7.35 to $15.50 at wholesale, consists of three collections — basic foundations called Elementary, dressier pieces called Atelier and athletic underwear called Play — comprising briefs, trunks, tees, tanks, knickers, singlets and long johns. Fabrications include a cotton-polyester-spandex blend, cotton-Modal blend and antibacterial poly mesh for athletic pieces. Colors range from basic black, white and gray to purple, army green and red.
While the product focuses on fit and fabric, with features like a patented “M” fly, the marketing message is fun and irreverent.
“It’s smart, sexy and masculine,” said Lopez. “We like to say it goes from the boardroom to the bedroom and everywhere in between.”
Tawil estimated first-year sales at $5 million to $7 million and said he plans to grow the brand into athleticwear, sportswear and accessories. “It’s a higher middle-range products that has a lot of crossover potential for other tiers of distribution,” he said.
For his part, Lopez is on board. “I’d really like to apply the same philosophy to fitness apparel. Hopefully this is just the beginning,” he said.