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Retailers: You Need More Than Celeb Name For Customers

Rachel Bilson
AP
Rachel Bilson

I declare the celebrity fashion line trend over to be over at this moment. Please, let it be over. Let me explain.

Rachel Bilson, the 26-year old actress from the former Fox teen drama "The OC," now has her own line of denim with DKNY jeans. The actress will help design the jeans which will sell under the 'Edie Rose' label and will retail between $19.50 and $49.50. According to Women's Wear Daily, the line will hit stores in September.

This is an interesting way for parent company Liz Claiborne to push into the celebrity designer market. The company is trying to turn itself around following years of sagging sales and a declining stock price. CEO Bill McComb has been narrowing down the number of brands under the Liz umbrella in order to refocus the manufacturer/retailer whose brand had gotten too watered down by too many generic clothing lines sold at midmarket department stores.

Today Bill McComb was on "Squawk Box." He said that one way the company is navigating the current tough consumer environment is by focusing on creating desirable product:

"We want to be deep on items that we think will have real traction with the consumer. This is a want driven business. It’s about creating demand with highly desirable product but we're being very careful in other parts of the line."

Other than teenage and early twenty something fans of "The OC" (which is no longer on air), I'm not sure who idolizes Bilson's fashion sense. She's a hot, pretty, perfectly nice LA-born and bred actress but certainly not of the stature of a Sarah Jessica Parker (creator of Steve & Barry's Bitten) or a Madonna (designed an H&M line.) Macy's Jessica Simpson line and Kohl's Avril Levigne line play to the budget teen shopper but I would say that both names are better known household names. Maybe I'm missing something but I can't imagine the line being a traffic driver. Maybe I'm wrong.

My appeal to retailers/manufacturers who want to drive traffic: Create gotta have product. Putting a celebrity's name (even more than a minor celeb) is not going to sell product that isn't exciting. We need a strong trend to drive sales and help get consumers back in stores!

Questions? Comments? retaildetail@cnbc.com

Retail

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