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Ryan Seacrest to Launch Clothing & Accessories

l-r David J. Katz, Randa Accessories Chief Marketing Officer & Ryan Seacrest

New Color-Matching System Is Meant to Help Guys Pair Items

The line also will help men match shirts to trousers to accessories. Randa Accessories

The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 11, 2014 6:57 p.m. ET

Most men don't have two stylists coordinating their clothes the way Ryan Seacrest does. So for his new clothing line, the "American Idol" host is including a color-matching system to help regular guys match trousers to shirt to tie.

The system may sound gimmicky. And Mr. Seacrest certainly isn't the first celebrity to affix his name to a clothing brand. But Macy's is buying into the launch of the line, called Ryan Seacrest Distinction. The retailer plans to roll it out in 150 of its nearly 800 stores, including its flagship New York Herald Square location, in time for fall shopping.

When it comes to fashion, Mr. Seacrest is best known for wearing suits or tuxedos when hosting Fox's "American Idol," E!'s red-carpet specials tied to award shows, and ABC's New Year's Eve show. For now, the collection is dominated by tailored clothing and accessories: suits, tuxedos, dress shirts, ties, belts, and tie bars, which are enjoying a renewed popularity that some makers credit to Mr. Seacrest's penchant for wearing them. Prices will range from $45 for belts to $550 for a suit.

l-r David J. Katz, CMO Randa Accessories, Ryan Seacrest, Jeffrey Spiegel, CEO Randa Accessories,
Richard Carroll, VP Marketing Randa Accessories

The idea was hatched by Randa Accessories, a New York company well-known in the menswear industry as the maker of accessories for brands including Kenneth Cole and Tommy Hilfiger. Randa executives approached Mr. Seacrest early last year, and the idea soon grew beyond accessories. In December, they met with Macy's general merchandise manager for the men's department, Richard Arnstein.

Mr. Seacrest said he intended the clothes to reflect what he wears. When manufacturers proposed lilac and green, he said "I wouldn't wear that," he recalled, in a recent telephone interview. "Sometimes they've said to me, 'You wouldn't wear this color but people like this color. They want to buy that color.' " Some shades of green made it into the neckwear collection, just "not bad leprechaun green," Mr. Seacrest said. Lilac was scrapped for blues and charcoals, said Ken Wyse, president of licensing at PVH Corp., which is making the dress shirts.

Bill Mahar, Brand Manager; Richard Carroll, VP Marketing; Ryan Seacrest; Jeffrey Spiegel, CEO; David J. Katz, CMO

Mr. Seacrest is aware of the eye roll that invariably comes from fashion followers when they hear that a celebrity is debuting a clothing line. "I'm not a designer, nor do I think I am," he said. "I see an opportunity to help curate these different pieces for guys at an accessible level."

The market for men's suits is tough. Men typically buy a suit only for special occasions like a new job or a wedding. Big style changes occur infrequently, so men can wear the same suits for years. Sales of men's suits fell 7.3% to $2.28 billion in 2013 after rising slightly in 2012, according to NPD Group. Mr. Seacrest's line will be priced lower than stalwarts like Brooks Brothers or relative newcomer to the market J.Crew. Macy's dominates the mass market, but it has its own challenges, with sales slipping in the most recent quarter as mall traffic struggles.

The target customers are men aged 25 to 45, Mr. Seacrest said, as well as 18- to 25-year-olds who may be interviewing for a first job or trying to impress in a new job. "I had in my mind the first time I walked into the Fox offices to audition to host. I didn't have the means to buy an expensive suit but I wanted to look the part," Mr. Seacrest said.

Ryan Seacrest Distinction Belts

The clothing will come with tags attached that are numbered 1 through 4. Each tag indicates a color family, so men can look at the number and be confident that if they wear all 1s, everything will match, for example, or get information that a 1 might also work with a 2.

The color-matching system, called "Style made Smart," is modeled after one that Mr. Seacrest uses. In his closets, each suit is on a hanger with a tie and a pocket square in the jacket pocket, and shoes for each outfit sit nearby. "I coordinate everything ahead of time," he said.

Tags on the garments with numbers help men pick items that go together. Randa Accessories
The idea for "Style made Smart" came about after David J. Katz and Richard Carroll, chief marketing officer and creative director of Randa, respectively, watched a video Mr. Seacrest made to show how he organized his wardrobe when on set in Los Angeles.

Before approaching Mr. Seacrest, Randa spent 12 months researching which celebrities influenced men shopping for dress clothes. Executives checked how frequently people searched on Google for Mr. Seacrest's clothing compared with other public personalities. Employees interviewed men shopping for suits and ties. Randa surveyed retailers about which male celebrities they consider when conceiving of new collections.

The conclusion was that Mr. Seacrest made it safe for the average guy to try a navy tuxedo or a tie bar. Randa filtered out other names because Mr. Seacrest's name came up more consistently over a longer period of time, which they felt reflected his staying power.

Ryan Seacrest Distinction Neckwear and Tie Bars. Randa Accessories

The 39-year-old Mr. Seacrest has his own production company, which produces TV shows and invests in media and entertainment companies through his Seacrest Global Group, among other ventures.

"American Idol" airs on Fox. Twentieth Century Fox Television is a unit of 21st Century Fox, which until June was part of the same company as Wall Street Journal owner News Corp.

Mr. Seacrest's company will control the master license, giving it more creative control than in most celebrity deals. Randa Accessories requires Seacrest approval for details from product design to advertising. Macy's will carry the line exclusively for at least a year, said Martine Reardon, Macy's chief marketing officer.

Tags on the garments with numbers help men pick items that go together. Randa Accessories
For the suits, Mr. Seacrest wanted a number of different greys "and wanted to make sure we not only had a black tuxedo but dark dressy navy, too," said Ronny Wurtzburger, president of Peerless Clothing, a longtime manufacturer that is making the line's suits. There is enough stretch in the slim-fitting-but-not-skinny two-button suits to fit a 20-year-old or a man in his 40s or 50s. The shirts have the shorter spread collars Mr. Seacrest prefers, said Mr. Wyse of PVH.

Mr. Seacrest, who wears Burberry suits on "American Idol" and Burberry tuxedos for red-carpet hosting and interviewing, said he will wear his own line but will keep a relationship with Burberry. Mr. Seacrest said he and Burberry designer Christopher Bailey talked or emailed "quite a bit" over the years about what Mr. Seacrest was wearing. "I'm a big fan and will continue to be," Mr. Seacrest said of Burberry. "I plan to wear my line. I plan to wear his line."

Early on, Mr. Seacrest notified the designer that he was starting his own line.

Mr. Bailey, Burberry's chief creative officer and chief executive, is supportive. "I imagine there are many guys out there who admire his look," he said.

"Ryan Seacrest is all over your television, but will he soon be in your closet as well? Seacrest is making a play for the fashion industry with a new line of men's clothing for Macy's. Ray Smith has the details on Lunch Break. Photos provided by Randa Accessories"

Full WSJ Article, click here

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