In an unlikely development, the fading pop starlet Justin Timberlake heated up Los Angeles Fashion Week not long ago. Along with his friend Trace Ayala, the former teen idol launched the William Rast brand with the 2007 spring/summer fashion line Street Sexy.
In an era of celebrity for celebrity's sake, anyone who has achieved some semblance of stardom rushes headlong into the fashion industry.
◆ Singing as a Side Job
Ever since the incandescent Jennifer Lopez transformed herself into a designer, the trend of stars taking on multiple sideline jobs has picked up steam. Jumping on the bandwagon is teenage actress/singer Hillary Duff with her fashion line Stuff by Hilary Duff. It is being fostered into a mega brand, spinning off cosmetics, fashion accessories, clothing, and fragrances. Three years ago, singer and actress Gwen Stefani joined the industry with the launch of her L.A.M.B (Love, Angel, Music, Baby) line. Stefani was the talk of the town at New York Fashion Week and fostered her line into a major enterprise that makes about W80 billion (US$1=W932) in sales per year. Hip-hop celebrity Jay-Z, who not too long ago gave a concert in Korea, has become the CEO of hip-hop clothing line Roc-a-Wear.
◆ I Design it -- I Wear it
Beyoncé Knowles and her stylist mother Tina Knowles launched House of Dereon two years ago, but it was the sexy pictures of Beyoncé in the ads that really lit up online sales. Coleen McLaughlin, the fiancée of English footballer Wayne Rooney, shook up the fashion world with her anti-fashion sense.
Fittingly, she thus became the designer for the ASDA supermarket chain's low-cost line GEORGE and the threads she has "crafted" almost always sell out. Her 10-pound shirts (around W18,000) flew off the shelves in less than an hour after they were stocked, becoming the fastest-moving product in the chain's history. The vest (3 pounds) and short pants (6 pounds) she showed up wearing were also an outright smash, selling over 100,000 units.
◆ Use Your lover and Your Friends
A good point about star-designed brands is that they don't need to pay for models as it is a natural promotion for stars to wear self-designed clothes during their outings on the town. They can also put their significant others to work. Thus Timberlake's girlfriend Cameron Diaz became a model for William Rast for symbolic fee of just US$1.
David Beckham wears his wife Victoria's Rock and Republic jeans at all times. The starlet Mandy Moore, with her wide network of Hollywood friends, launched medium- to low-priced brand Mblem, whose regulars including Kate Hudson, Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Garner and Natalie Portman.
◆ And in Korea?
The trend has also spread to Korea. Byeon Jeong-soo, Hwang Shin-hye and Lee Hye-young are to launch their own brands and embark on careers as designers. There are more than 50 known cases.
Among them, Missing Dorothy launched by Lee Hye-young is popular for its stylish, trend-setting design. Kim Jun-hee's Evajunie and Choi Kang-hee's Nowhere 333 put their names on the list. Jimigi's MIGGI in New York and Parkk run by the sister of actress Park Si-yeon are selling products on the Woori Home shopping site, with some success.