Having built a surprisingly strong and enduring retail base that started off with footwear in 2005 and has since expanded into a tremendously successful denim and handbags lines, Jessica Simpson is now set to debut a complete sportswear collection for fall.
According to WWD, retailers are feverishly anticipating the line of ready-to-wear for juniors and beyond: The daily cites more than one merchandiser pointing to the mom-and-daughter phenomenon of shopping together—to be unveiled in nearly 700 department stores nationwide. And if the clothes reach the same level of popularity Jessica Simpson shoes have in six years, their excitement will be rewarded.
The Camuto Group, which owns the brand license, has reportedly tapped Jones Group to oversee the sportswear division, and plans call for the continued expansion to activewear, accessories, home, and even bridal in the next few years. According to WWD, Vince Camuto, head of the Camuto Group who purchased the Jessica SImpson license in 2005 for $15 million, predicts sales will exceed $1 billion by 2012.
Sportswear will reportedly retail alongside denim at most stores, with price points falling between $39-$129, targeted toward the top end of the juniors market. The collection is focused on specific items, rather than an overall aesthetic—pant silhouettes or "wow" items based on current trends, for example. The girls to which the clothing is being marketed are those who are very well aware, and fond, of the smiling face of the brand. Said Macy's SVP of marketing, Martine Reardon, about Simpson's appeal:
“Jessica was a singing star and actress. She’s proven herself to be a designer who’s extremely involved in the look and feel of her brand. She’s a celebrity and a designer. They can be interchangeable, depending upon their talent. Jessica is not a spokesperson. She is the brand. It’s Jessica’s sensibility.”
Jack Gross, CEO of the Jones Jeanswear Group, believes Simpson's business acumen is just as strong as her star power. "You don’t have to be a Jessica Simpson fan to appreciate it," he said. "I think with some other celebrity brands, the product lets down the consumer. I’m looking for sustainability, and I think she has sustainability.”
Indeed, she has far surpassed typically low expectations for stars' staying power in the retail arena at six years strong, and her brand shows no signs of slowing down. Retailers can't wait for the fall collection to hit, for sure, and we'll be interested to see the size of the splash.