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Billboard, February 10, 2007

By William Chipps

When the fashion industry converges on New York's Bryant Park to preview the fall 2007 collections during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Feb. 2-9, you can count on pop stars lending their flash to the proceedings. But the increasing involvement of pop musicians with the fashion industry is no flash-in-the-pan affair. And the deals roll out throughout the year. Here's a look at five noteworthy business relationships between performers and clothing companies that have driven the connection between fashion and music.


Looking to tap into the appeal one of the world's most stylish performers, Swedish apparel retailer Hennes & Mauritz, better-known as H&M, last year aligned with Madonna on a one-off collection that included a Madonna-inspired tracksuit. H&M touted the artist and her dance crew in a fall advertising campaign.

H&M and Madonna will expand the partnership this year, with the retailer gearing up for the global launch of its "M by Madonna" collection in March. The line consists of roughly 30 pieces with some 10 matching accessories.

"Madonna is a style icon and like H&M is always at the forefront when it comes to current trends and fashions," H&M director of U.S. communications and press Lisa Sandberg says. "This collection will offer our customers a way to express themselves in a unique and individual way. Madonna stands for fashion and advocates personal style, just like H&M."

Madonna worked directly with H&M head of design Margareta van den Bosch to design a collection that reflects the artist's timeless, unique and glamorous style, Sandberg says.

The partnership was forged by video producer Nicola Doring, who has previously worked with Madonna. H&M global marketing director Jorgen Andersson spearheaded the deal on behalf of the retailer.

BBC Apparel

Paris Hilton -- hotel heiress, pop star and reality TV queen -- recently teamed with BBC Apparel Group and its Dollhouse clothing line to create a self-titled sportswear and lingerie brand aimed at 15- to 25-year-old females.

BBC will launch the line later this year in time for the back-to-school shopping season.

BBC Apparel Group senior VP of marketing and licensing Deke Jamieson believes Hilton's widespread media exposure and active involvement in the clothing line will play a key role in driving interest from consumers and retailers.

"Many celebrities just lend their names to a label. That's not enough," he says. "Paris wants to wear the product and play an integral role in designing the product. This is not just a logo slap."

Jamieson initiated the partnership by reaching out to the Beanstalk Group, a New York-based licensing agency that represents Hilton.

"As we take partners for our clients, we look to make sure they share the same vision for the brand that our client has," Beanstalk Group senior VP of brand management Gail Stern says. "We felt both BBC and Dollhouse would ultimately make the kind of apparel Paris would be proud of and represent how she sees herself in the marketplace as a brand."

Beanstalk Group co-founder/vice chairman Seth Segal also played a key role in putting the deal together.


Multiplatinum-selling rap artist Young Jeezy late last year launched his 8732 clothing line that includes jeans, jackets and polo shirts.

Young Jeezy didn't have to look far for a partner. The artist teamed with Jay-Z, president of Def Jam Records -- Jeezy's label -- and co-founder of Rocawear.

"8732 represents my culture. It's real, street with a Southern twist, just like my music," Young Jeezy says.

From a marketing perspective, the apparel line will help Young Jeezy maintain visibility between albums, says Donald Woodard, the rapper's attorney. "It gives fans an opportunity to connect with him in a way that will live beyond his records when the life span of an album is over," Woodard says.

Def Jam and Rocawear leveraged marketing activity around the launch of the clothing line and the December release of Jeezy's album "The Inspiration" to promote both products.

For example, Rocawear touted the apparel line in an ad campaign to build hype around the album's launch, while Def Jam touted 8732 in a CD insert. "There were synergies in both directions," Woodard says.

Rocawear CFO Ronnie DeMichael helped put the deal together.

JAKKS Pacific

Late last year, Snoop Dogg teamed up with JAKKS Pacific to develop a line of pet products that includes a doggie basketball jersey, an animal print faux-fur coat and a hoodie sweatshirt. The line also includes dog toys and accessories loaded with a sound chip that plays signature Snoop Dogg phrases.

"We're a license-driven company, and we went after an artist that would be a good fit with our pet business," JAKKS spokeswoman Genna Rosenberg says.

"We sought out Snoop Dogg because he is such a major icon and also has a strong correlation with canines."

The company launched the pet product line in late 2006 through a pre-order sale on Amazon to leverage the Nov. 21 release of Snoop Dogg's album "Tha Blue Carpet Treatment."

"We are very pleased to team up with to launch a pre-order for our Snoop Dogg line to coincide with the excitement surrounding his new CD," Tony Lawlor, senior VP of marketing with JAKKS' JPI Pets division, said at the time.

Other dealmakers involved include Constance Schwartz, Snoop's manager with the Firm, and JAKKS senior VP of licensing Jennifer Richmond.

Rod Elam Collection

To promote his fall clothing line and play up his company's Philadelphia roots, clothing designer Rod Elam used Philadelphia rap artist and former Cash Money Millionaire member Gillie Da Kid as the face of his 2006 ad campaign.

"Gillie's a very talented artist who has paid his dues. And, we're both from Philadelphia, which is our strongest selling area," says Elam, owner/designer of the Rod Elam Collection.

Elam touted Gillie and the outerwear collection through a national print campaign in Don Diva, Smooth and other magazines.

"Gillie is proud of where he's from, and the partnership brings some notoriety by getting his face out there," says Yanna B., Gillie's manager and owner of Envus Management Group.

The deal was put together by James Elam, Gillie's attorney and Rod Elam's brother.


William Chipps is senior editor of the IEG Sponsorship Report.