The Rise of the Celebrity Fashion Line


There’s a recent trend threatening to take over the hearts and minds of Americans. This is a threat so prominent, so pervasive that it may cause a fundamental rift in our delicate relationship with our closets.

It’s the rise of the celebrity “designed” fashion line.

Sarah Jessica Parker, Jacqueline Smith, Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton, Daisy Fuentes, Lance Armstrong, Prince, Amanda Bynes Jessica Simpson, Justin Timberlake, Scartlett Johanssen, Shaquille O’Neil, Queen Latifah, Kate Moss, Paula Abdul, Carson Kressely, Kylie Minogue, Katherine Heigl, Gisele Bunchen, Stephon Marbury, Delta Burke and every other A, B, and Q list celebrity have clothing lines.

As much as I may grimace, the current , celebrity-turned-designer trend is nothing new. I’m sure Mary Tyler Moore had a line of women’s career shirts sometime in the 70s.  However, it wasn’t until Jaclyn Smith partnered up with K-Mart in the early eighties on the development of her hugely successful eponymous clothing line ($600 million dollars in annual sales), that we saw the potential financial benefits of having a celebrity “designed” line.

Unfortunately,  the trend is going to get much worst, before it gets better. Globally, we have an insatiable appetite for all things celebrity and an even bigger appetite to emulate the perceived lives of celebrities.  This appetite has created a strange shopping twist with Machiavellian overtones, where consumers feel “grateful” and “privileged” for the opportunity to purchase clothing “designed” by celebrities, while the celebrity makes an insane amount of money by doing this “good deed.” An example of this twist is the near virtual riot caused by fans of Sarah Jessica Parker, when I suggested that her motivations for doing the line was less altruistic and more monetary. Even the questionable quality and even more questionable manufacturing practices (remember Kathi Lee Gifford and her ill-fated line with Wal-Mart?) of these lines becomes secondary to the perception that owning a pair of Jessica Simpson shoes will brings you one step closer to actually being Jessica Simpson.

Now, not every celebrity-designed line is well received by the public. Madonna’s line at H&M received a lukewarm reception and there’s some retailers, most notably Target, who’ve rebuked the celebrity-turned-designer trend, focusing most of their energies on developing partnerships with award winning designers. Wal-Mart, for the most part, is doing the same thing with their George clothing lines. However for every Target and Wal-Mart there’s at least five other retailers jumping at the chance to get the runner up to the Apprentice to design a line of suits.  As long it doesn’t compete, of course, with the Trump line.


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  1. says

    It truly is a strange phenomenon. Every celebrity and their dog has a fashion line now.

    Other than Target, Zara also refuses to follow this celebrity-line trend.

  2. says

    Doubtless there are celebrities out there who may possess an eye and the smarts for creating fashion lines – but now everyone and their cousin, every pseudo-celebrity, is playing at designing. The latest fun fest being the news that one of the Grey’s Anatomy stars will design her own line of scrubs.  Scrubs!  What’s there to design!? They are scrubs! Heh, sorry for the rant.  This reminds me of the parallel trend on Broadway: cast anyone with a name, no matter their ability or suitableness for the role, or the “let’s have celebrities do cartoon voices” trend.  It seems to all be about the pull a star’s “name” has, not the intrinsic quality of the product.  But hasn’t it always been this way, if perhaps on a smaller scale?

  3. ash says

    I like it when a celebrity that you wouldnt expect at all comes out with a clothing line…for example Kendra Wilkinson from The Girls Next Door announced her clothing line and it seemed so out of character but next thing you know she is previewing dark rinse skinny jeans and trendy wide legged trouser jeans…I was expecting mini skirts and bras plus the website ,, says the price range will be affordable so I dont care whose label it is I am not complaining

  4. Danielle says

    You are so right, TBF!  I really find the whole celebrity craze to be an insult to our national intelligence.  Doesn’t it take skill, training, and apprenticeship to be a high class designer of clothes, furniture, or whatnot?  These celebrity lines seem to imply that their time in the spotlight has somehow imbued them with everything they need to do the designing.  Of course, I’m sure that someone else with some skill/training/apprenticeship is doing the true designing, and the celebrities are simply signing their name to it.  I just don’t understand why people fall for it!

  5. amelia says

    The only reasons celebrities have their own lines is because they feel they can make money off of anything they write their names on. Just because they have their names on clothing doesn’t mean they created it or designed it, usually a designer shows them clothes that represent them and the cebrity just “approves” it. Plus its a status symbol, I feel that now a days they consider themselves worthless and a “B-list” celebrity if they don’t have their own lines.I think personally it takes work out of peoples hands who worked hard to go to fashion school,who hoped one day they would have their own lines, not because they were famous but because their designs were genius. I also hate the fact that models who were born to wear clothes because of their height and frame can’t get work for big designers such as Louis Vuitton anymore because celebrities represent all these designers now.

  6. kellyafaf says

    “I also hate the fact that models who were born to wear clothes because of their height and frame can’t get work for big designers such as Louis Vuitton anymore because celebrities represent all these designers now.”

    So if someone is tall and thin they were born to wear clothes? Personally I feel like clothing looks much better on average sized women who were born to do bigger and better things. Not to say being a model isn’t importnant, but come on. I do have a smidge of sympathy for the models who lose out on lucrative print ad contracts to celebs. However, they still get to do runway and er hang out with Tyra or something.

    Plus for every celeb I see in a designer ad., I see at least 10 regular old models in other ads. Perhaps they don’t get paid as much as the big name, but they are still out there.

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