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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"Our customer has a real emotional connection with Rachel and she's always on the best-dressed lists, so it seemed like such a win-win for us," said Kevin Monogue, president of DKNY Jeans.

David Wolfe, creative director at The Doneger Group, agreed with Wood that Winehouse and Ferrera could be good celebrities to have a brand of their own.

"America is known on 'Ugly Betty' as someone who doesn't have great style, but in real life she is getting prettier and prettier by the minute, which I think makes her extremely appealing," he said. "I also think that Amy Winehouse could do something. She's certainly hot, isn't she? I'm also surprised that Brooke Shields hasn't signed a deal yet, especially now that she's hot again on 'Lipstick Jungle.' That just seems like a natural."

But, he added, not every celebrity can have a brand of their own.

"I honestly do not believe that every line out there is working well," he said. "But the ones that are working are working because they show the consumer that she can easily find things she likes. For instance, when she sees a line from Gwen Stefani, she can say, 'I like Gwen's style and her style is my style.' So, she can buy things that Gwen would wear by buying her line."

Fraser Ross, owner of the Los Angeles-based Kitson stores, said his number-one issue with celebrity clothing lines is the lack of participation from the celebrities.

"There has to be more support for their retailers. The celebrity has to be 100 percent involved with their own line and they have to be willing to support the retailers who are selling it. Having a clothing line should be treated by them as no different than selling an album or promoting a movie," he said. "I'm fighting right now with Victoria Beckham's people because she lives here in L.A., we sell her line and she won't come in here to do an appearance. We have customers asking if she will come in and what am I supposed to tell them? She lives here, she really should come out and support her fans, the people buying her jeans." (Beckham has, however, made numerous personal appearances in other stores that carry her line, recently doing a multicity tour with Saks Fifth Avenue.)
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