Macy’s celebrity tie-ins have been a mixed bag. For every Jessica Simpson, there’s a Martha Stewart, whose association led to a contentious lawsuit with J.C. Penney. In men’s wear, the store’s relationship with polarizing presidential candidate Donald Trump led to a highly publicized divorce between Trump and former golf buddy — and Macy’s chief executive officer — Terry J. Lundgren.
Ryan Seacrest, Macy’s latest darling, doesn’t seem to have any political aspirations. But the radio and television personality and producer has lofty goals for his branding empire, starting with the expansion of his apparel line, Ryan Seacrest Distinction, which has doubled in sales since its launch at the store a year ago.
For this fall, RSD is expanding beyond suits and furnishings into sweaters, outerwear, scarves, gloves and travel bags. And Seacrest doesn’t plan to stop there.
“I see the line in the top five at Macy’s, hopefully. We are inching in on it. It will be a lifestyle brand that will have aspects of casual, formal, athletic, workout, everything, but we are trying to manage our own expectations because we are pretty ambitious,” said Seacrest, seated in his office at Ryan Seacrest Productions in Los Angeles.
“We work in broadcast media, which is instant gratification, and [apparel] is like working in the film business, thinking so far ahead. So it’s a bit of a paradigm shift, but we are pushing the system to move as quickly as it can.”
Seacrest is wearing a charcoal-gray sweater and black leather jacket from the fall line, which is tar- geted at style-conscious Millennials. Like the RSD suits, the pieces are tailored, slim-cut and have a subtle throwback vibe. There are classic peacoats, shawl-collared sweaters and plaid sport jackets, which will retail for $80 to $400.
“A lot of the inspiration came from the days of Dick Clark, Frank Sinatra and Cary Grant,” said Seacrest of the suits and skinny ties. “I’ve always been a fan of people and things with great style. I also had access to great cut and tailoring through Christopher Bailey, who made Burberry suits for me. He encouraged me quite a bit to find the intersection of accessible pricing and great tailored suits.”
Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer of Macy’s, said since the Ryan Seacrest Distinction collection hit stores last fall, it has grown to become “one of the strongest men’s clothing brand launches we’ve had in over a decade.” (She declined to provide a volume figure for the line.)
“It’s now in about 150 stores, but we will be expanding dress furnishings to 500 doors,” she said. “The brand is very, very strong for us.”
Richard Arnstein, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s for Macy’s, agrees.
“The young, modern fit resonates with our customers, especially Millennials. We have been impressed with the first-year results and look forward to continued growth with this brand.”
Seacrest, pointing to a navy hoodie over a blue sateen button down, said, “You can wear that with a pair of jeans, and the next day you can wear a bow tie and jacket. If you look at genres of music today, there are no silos or walls. Everybody is working with everybody and I think you see the same thing with men’s fashion.” In fact, Seacrest is striving to push more fashion in the line, while keeping its polished-casual vibe.
“We talked about a sportswear capsule with Macy’s that we are pursuing aggressively. It could be a great opportunity with the summer programming,” he said, referring to his late-night hosting duties for 2016’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The product is made by Peerless Clothing, PVH Corp., Randa Accessories and Weatherproof. Reardon said Seacrest’s sense of style and his ubiquitous exposure on television and radio creates “a lot of credibility. He’s astute at putting things together and that’s what helps elevate the brand.”
“Ryan knows he’s not the designer,” Reardon added. “He’s the curator.”
For Seacrest, cultivating his look also includes a skin-care regimen. “From the research that we’ve done, I think there’s a big opportunity in skin care for men because longevity is a focus for a lot of people right now. If it were accessible and easy I think guys would respond to it,” he said, noting that the venture would be a partnership rather than a licensing agreement.
Not surprisingly, Seacrest doesn’t get much sleep. “I go to bed after the 10 o’clock news, start tossing and turning at three a.m., and wake up not long after that. I sleep in 15-minute vignettes. If I put together my night on a DVD, it would be chaptered.” Naturally, he’s got a book in the works — part memoir, part business and time-management advice, and some restaurant anecdotes.
“When I look back on my career, I remember it through the lens of the restaurant I went to at the end of the week. Whether I was making $12 an hour or a little more, I liked to reward myself with a nice bottle of wine or a good meal if I could afford it that week.”
These days, there isn’t much he can’t afford; he became the highest-paid reality show host with a $15 million-per-year deal for “American Idol” and has an estimated net worth of $375 million. In 2012, he bought Ellen DeGeneres’ Beverly Hills estate for close to $49 million. “It has pretty cool closets,” he said. “She had plenty of room for everything.”