Even today – more than 70 years after "The Wizard of Oz" was released in 1939 – Judy Garland is an icon. It's not surprising that the legendary actress was one of the few movie stars who had her own clothing line way back in the 1930s.
Judy Garland in the '40s (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Snooki today (Marcel Thomas/FilmMagic)
What is shocking is that today, as New York Fashion Week comes to a close, almost every celeb, even if he or she is a minor reality star, has attached his or her name to a clothing line. You can buy threads from several "Jersey Shore" cast members, "Extra" host Mario Lopez, and soon even Chris Harrison, the host of "The Bachelor.” (You've already missed out on Heidi Montag's Heidiwood, David Hasselhoff's Malibu Dave, Jennifer Lopez's Sweetface, and countless other gems.) Interestingly enough, most of these stars aren't even known for being stylish!
Brandi Glanville, star of the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills,” launched her own clothing line, Brand B, in December.
"I grew up modeling and in the fashion world, so it's always been in my life," she tells omg! in a statement. "It's a whole new world we live in with celebrity branding. Everyone is trying to build an empire and hopefully some of these lines will stick."
And she does mean everyone.
Chris Harrison (Todd Oren/WireImage)Brandi Glanville (Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images)
Rob Stone, vice president of licensing at Excel Branding, a firm that's worked with clients such as Coca-Cola and "Baywatch," has noticed the trend.
"Celebrity licensing has definitely increased. There's no question about it," he tells omg!, adding, "For every one [celebrity clothing line] that you see, there's probably 15 other celebrities that were pitched, that didn't make the cut."
[Related: Photos of Celebs at New York Fashion Week]
So what has happened to make every semi-famous person out there suddenly interested in fashion design? A few things, beginning with the fact that there's a lot of money to be made if the product takes off, because celebrities receive royalty checks for the merchandise that sells, and some celebrity brands can move a lot of merch. For example, Jessica Simpson's Jessica Simpson Collection raked in an estimated $750 million in 2010! Victoria Beckham, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, and Jay-Z are just a few of the other stars whose clothing lines have been hits.
Victoria Beckham (Donato Sardella/WireImage)The Olsens (Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Obviously, celebrities and their teams know that a clothing line has the potential to make them big bucks. And thanks to Twitter, Instagram, and other social media outlets, the famous can argue that they have a massive number of potential customers.
Plus, it's no secret that the world is obsessed with celebrity. Recognizable faces have practically replaced models as the cover subjects of monthly magazines and as spokespeople pitching products, including clothes for other brands. Naturally, they'd rather be pitching their own.
But with so many celebrity fashion lines out there, it's inevitable that some will fail, whether with customers, fashion critics, or both.
Christian Siriano, right, and celebrity fan Shailene Woodley (Joe Kohen/Getty Images)
Christian Siriano, the in-demand fashion designer who got his start on "Project Runway," tells omg! that the hard truth is fashion isn't for everyone just because he or she has a famous name.
"The hardest thing is when people have no place in the industry," Siriano says. "It's a tough thing because there's a lot of people that just don't understand the business, so it's always hard to judge them."
It's not hard for the consumer, though, to sense if a celeb is doing something just for the money, that it isn't really representative of who they are, like if Rihanna were to begin selling demure ball gowns.
Bruno Schiavi, the co-creator of Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian's Kardashian Kollection, said the reality stars made ideal candidates for a celebrity clothing line.
"I wanted to work with the girls because they always push the fashion boundaries and they have amazing style sense. They know how to dress for their body types and they are proud to show off their curves," Schiavi shares. "Fashion is easy for the girls – they get it, they breathe it, they were born to do it. Not every celebrity can launch a fashion brand."
Khloe, Kourtney, and Kim Kardashian (Michael Stewart/Getty Images)
Consumers can also spot a lousy product or a bad deal quickly.
"I think sometimes – with any celebrity collection, or any collection in general – rushing your items to have a mass appeal very quickly is such a hard thing,” explains Siriano. You really need to really think about the items that you’re making and you’re producing. For my collection for HSN, I did a lot of research about like what my mom wanted to buy when she was looking for a jacket under $100, what my sister would wear, what all the girls in my office want, what are they looking for. And I think those type of things are really important."
The way Stone sees it, it's a bad business decision for a company to team up with a celeb to create a clothing line if the celebrity won't be around in 10 years. He also takes into account that it can take up to 18 months from the conception of a clothing line to making it available to consumers. It's not surprising that he quickly turned down a pitch from Snooki's team.
And, as Schiavi notes, fame alone doesn't qualify someone to be designer.
"It's very difficult to be able to recognize fashion trends, and also lead in fashion," he shares. "Yes, you can be a great singer or actress; does that make you a great fashion designer? No, not always."
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