Women’s Wear Daily
04.19.2014
fashion-features
fashion-features

Hilary's Birthday Treat: Turning 18, Duff Plans On a Lifestyle Empire

As an 18th birthday present to herself, Hilary Duff is forming a lifestyle brand and will market apparel, fragrance and accessories.

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Neal Seideman, senior vice president of IMG licensing in Cleveland, said the Olsens serve as the benchmark against which to measure the success of a fashion and lifestyle company.

"She is a more authentic musician and a more authentic actress," Seideman said, comparing Duff with the Olsens. "At IMG, we see Hilary as someone who will be around and excelling in her career for decades."

Duff is targeting the junior category with Thorne's help. After leaving Dualstar in January, Thorne relaunched Robert Thorne Co. a month later in Beverly Hills to handle brand management services for celebrities and media properties.

"We are direct competitors now," Thorne said of the Olsens.

By focusing on the teen girls' market, Duff hopes to woo a fickle but lucrative demographic that has eluded even the Olsens, who had a short-lived junior line in 2003 under the mary-kateandashley brand at Wal-Mart. If Duff establishes a foothold, then she could have an advantage over Thorne's former charges, who are considering reentering the teen apparel business with a new label.

Duff first burst into the spotlight in 2001 as the bubbly Lizzie McGuire, whose junior high adventures about accidentally spreading rumors in online chats and other social mishaps appeared on the Disney channel. She has released an album each year since 2003, generating total sales of more than 5.9 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Thousands of teenagers bop at her command at sold-out concerts.

Duff climbed to top billing in movies such as "The Perfect Man" and "A Cinderella Story," and graced the cover of Seventeen's August 2004 issue, which prevailed as the teen magazine's newsstand bestseller of the year.

After snaring the 72nd spot last year in Forbes' "The Celebrity 100," based on her earnings and buzz, she garnered mentions as one of People's "50 Most Beautiful People" and one of Teen People's "Hottest Stars Under 25."

Duff has managed to limit her presence in the tabloids primarily to pictures of her walking her Chihuahua and shopping with her boyfriend, Joel Madden, who leads the teen-friendly punk band Good Charlotte.

Thorne, who began working with Duff in April, said, "She works and she's out there and she has the right values. It was the perfect opportunity. And I approached her."
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