Welcome to Now You Know, InStyle fashion news director Eric Wilson’s column that will help you become a fashion know-it-all in one easy read. Each week, he’ll take a look at an endearing fashion influence and why it’s relevant right now. Enjoy!
Earlier this week, I stumbled onto an interesting new topic page on the Business of Fashion that raised the question “Are celebrity labels good for fashion?”
It’s one of fashion’s favorite questions, and has been for as long as celebrities have been lending their names to clothing collections, a phenomenon that is nearly a century old. (Teri Agins, in her celebrity fashion history book Hijacking the Runway, cites the French tennis player René Lacoste as the earliest major example for creating the crocodile logo in 1927 and commercially-produced knits in 1933.) But it is really only in the last two decades that celebrity brands have become so commonplace that it seems like a new one is announced nearly every day.
Why, just on Tuesday, WWD reported that Paul Stanley of KISS is launching a new brand called Paul Stanley: Royals and Rebels. His offerings will reportedly include men’s fashion apparel and accessories, footwear, food, spirits, home décor, cookware, and more. You remember KISS, right? Clearly a band that is at the forefront of contemporary fashion, and just the sort of people you want to design a royally rebellious fondue set. I jest, but so does Stanley. “What am I going to do? Make jackets with bat wings?” he told the site.
Actually, that just might sell.
My opinion has long been that celebrity labels are great for fashion, and for a simple reason: They create jobs for many non-famous designers that pay really well. Also, consumers clearly relate to their style, as well as their backgrounds and personalities, so it’s great to be able to shop directly from the source. And this brings us to an interesting new wrinkle in the business of celebrity labels, which is that celebrities are increasingly bringing a more personal approach to the table when it comes to creating their brands.
One of the differentiating points about Reese Witherspoon’s new lifestyle site Draper James is that the collections feature a “Southern aesthetic,” after her New Orleans heritage. That translates into wicker handbags, a “Nashville” lace top, and a T-shirt that says, “Keep it Pretty Please.” And Ellen DeGeneres, who’s unveiling her brand ED online next month, showed an admirable degree of self-awareness when she recently noted that Kim Kardashian is probably not going to be one of her customers.
What else can we look forward to? I’m intrigued by Melissa McCarthy’s new collection called Seven7, coming in August. While the collection will feature a broad range of sizes, from 4 to 28, McCarthy has been making headlines recently for her comments decrying the lack of fashionable options in larger sizes. Her pal Rebel Wilson also just announced she’s designing a collection for Torrid this fall, featuring jackets, dresses, and koala-print T-shirts, for sizes 12 to 28. She summarized the personal attitude of the collection on Twitter:
“Yep, I’m bringing out a clothing line in November! #RebelforTorrid & if you’re too skinny for it, you can buy the bag.”