IMG, the Cleveland, Ohio-based sports and modeling agency, will negotiate and coordinate Duff's licensing deals for everything from shoes to pajamas. By 2008, she intends to be marketing her tween and teen labels in 20 countries, from Australia to Japan to the U.S. to Germany.
"I, really at the end of the day, get to decide what goes on and what doesn't," Duff said, declining to reveal financial terms of her deals.
The new venture raises the stakes for celebrities trying to build individual fashion labels. While many have dabbled with staging fashion shows and marketing cosmetics and fragrances, few have succeeded in building a lifestyle empire.
Perhaps the most seasoned of the multitasking celebrities are Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, the twins who share ownership and are co-presidents of an entertainment and lifestyle empire that by some estimates generated $1 billion in retail sales last year. The Olsens started Dualstar Entertainment Group to produce videos and other products supporting their brand in 1993, and bowed a tween line of clothing, mary-kateandashley, at Wal-Mart eight years later.
To guide her, Duff has teamed with Robert Thorne, the former lawyer and manager of the Olsens and, until January, ceo of their company. Thorne now manages Duff's brands, including her two labels and their fashion and lifestyle products worldwide.
"I want to eclipse what we did with Mary-Kate and Ashley," he said.
Though Duff didn't immediately decide on a name for her new company, the venture adds to her earlier branding initiatives. Mattel and Candie's (now known as Iconix) already tapped her to sell products ranging from the Barbie doll clothing line to sneakers. Townley also created a fragrance for her with the name of Stuff by Hilary Duff. In 2003, Duff rolled out a limited offering of hair accessories, jewelry and apparel in the U.S. and also in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Duff's endorsement deal with Candie's new apparel line, which is sold exclusively at Kohl's, will end in spring 2006, before the b-t-s 2006 expansion of her tween label.