Fashion Scouts New Talent

The craze for celebrity apparel deals has returned with a vengeance ¿ despite a track record filled with missteps and few lines that have had any success.

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"Miley is seen as a good girl and not a complete train wreck, which in itself is appealing to teens," he said of the star, who has her own "Hannah Montana" line at stores ranging from Macy's to Wal-Mart. "Vanessa showed that she can deal with trouble well. When those naughty photos of her surfaced, she was like 'So what?' So, her fans also thought, 'So what?'"

Wood also said he sees potential for more celebrity brands in the sports arena, and he is surprised that there haven't been more stars with brands in the Hispanic community as this group tends to be extremely loyal and passionate about the celebrities they follow. While the Daisy Fuentes line at Kohl's is quite successful after launching with the retailer five years ago, it isn't necessarily targeted to the teen set. Also, the Thalia line, which was sold exclusively at Kmart, no longer exists. He cited actress America Ferrera as one who is certainly ripe for a deal.

"Girls just love America Ferrera. She has really blossomed, she's down-to-earth and is so likeable," he said. "She has so much going for her."

Wood questioned whether the Avril Lavigne for Kohl's line, called Abbey Dawn, is a good idea, because of this movement toward the good girls.

"I do feel that Avril's time has passed in a way, and she is also seen as a difficult person and really not all that nice," he said. "She is easy to hate, so I'm just not sure."

Julia Hearst, divisional director for contemporary women's wear at Holt Renfrew, said that while she does sell a number of celebrity brands such as Kate Moss for Topshop, Lauren Conrad and Elizabeth & James (the contemporary line from the Olsen twins), it's the product that sells, not the name. She said that when she looks at a new celebrity brand, she looks at it as she would any new brand—— a possible new resource for the selling floor.

"A celebrity name means absolutely nothing to us," she said. "It's about the quality and style. That is what inspires us to buy. Product always comes first and the brand name comes second. There are a lot of celebrity brands out there that we wouldn't go anywhere near because they don't match our fashion direction."
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