This year will go down as the year when today's music stars decided it was time to top the fashion charts, as well.
LL Cool J rolled out a line of apparel into 450 Sears stores on Sept. 9. The collection currently has more than 100 SKUs, a number that will double to 200 SKUs in 700 stores by holiday. The line is being produced by Regatta, the proprietary brands group of Li & Lung USA.
"He wants to be known as a family brand," says Amy Dimond, spokeswoman for the Sears' apparel line, "and for the clothing and brand to be accessible to everyone at a good price point. We are not targeting the $500 jeans crowd." Pricing on t-shirts will range from $22 to $36 and jeans from $42 to $50.
Another hip-hop star expressing his inner fashion icon was Snoop Dogg. The Robert Thorne Company and IMG World joined forces to launch a new multicategory lifestyle brand called Rich & Infamous from the design studios of entertainer Snoop Dogg and fashion design house Industry Concepts.
The artist described the essence of his new brand as "a fraternity of sorts—from presidents to gangsters—those few men who've been able to endure the burden of gaining wealth at any cost. Garnering equal parts admiration and disdain, these men savor the fruits and relish the spotlight. They are Rich & Infamous," he says.
The line was introduced selectively in spring 2008 with a limited-edition collection of tops from Industry Concepts in collaboration with design house Christian Audigier. It will expand into a broad collection of men's fashion and accessories, as well as grooming and home products.
In late summer, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons' newest urban sportswear line for men over age 25, Russell Simmons Argyle Culture, signed a licensing agreement with LF USA, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Li & Fung Limited.
The agreement is expected to grow the men's clothing line, launched in 2007 at Macy's and other leading specialty stores, and to extend its reach into new product categories and distribution channels. Simmons created the sportswear line for professional men who want to live the urban lifestyle.
Not to be outdone by the men, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and actress Fergie announced a deal with Brown Shoe to create a namesake shoe brand that will debut in spring 2009.
This past July, clothing manufacturer Jerry Leigh and singer Avril Lavigne launched Abbey Dawn, a new junior's lifestyle brand sold exclusively at Kohl's in the United States, with additional opportunities being explored internationally.
"Following the success of Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers, tokidoki and our long-standing relationship with Disney, the partnership with the multitalented Lavigne was a natural succession," says Andrew Leigh, president of Jerry Leigh.
Comprised of jewelry and apparel, the collection will be updated every 60 days. Additional categories will be added to the Abbey Dawn line, including shoes and bags.
Signatures Networks has a host of musically inspired apparel deals ready to rock and roll.
An exclusive designer assortment of men's apparel and accessories, inspired by the Beatles "Love" by Cirque du Soleil, will be featured in specially designed shops beginning this month. Designers include Marc by Marc Jacobs, Katharine Hamnett, Psycho Bunny, John Varvatos for Converse, Hickey, Trunk and Theory.
"The Beatles historic influence on music, fashion and culture is as strong today as it ever was," says Steve Glasenk, vice president of licensing for Signatures Network. "This collection takes the product to an entirely new level of design and sophistication."
The collection will include suits, velvet jackets, cold weather gear and cuff links with some items using the Beatles album cover designs and song titles for "Hey Jude" and "All You Need is Love."
Yoko Ono's art publishing company, Bag One Arts, and Signatures Network will launch a licensing program based on the drawings of John Lennon. The program will consist of two brands: "I am a Dreamer" for infants, toddlers and children and "This is My Story" for adults.
Lennon's archival sketches have never been licensed before, according to Glasenk, and the lifestyle collection will include textiles, furniture, bedding, lighting, tableware and apparel.
Signatures Network is developing an extensive licensing and promotional campaign behind Woodstock to celebrate the historical rock-and-roll concert event in upstate New York that defined a generation. There will be an exclusive retail partner, according to Glasenk, that will be announced in the near future.
The line will include fashion, accessories and home décor that reflect the Woodstock-era ideals.
Mighty Fine will launch Anthill Trading properties including Blondie, AC/DC and Run DMC licensed apparel in January 2009.