Designing Women

Oct 06, 2004

By David Morse

What do Kmart, Sears and Kohl’s have in common? They’ve all hired popular Latina entertainers to design and endorse product lines that bear their names. The goal: win share among Hispanic shoppers.

Kmart, in hopes of adding some sizzle to its aged assortment of brands, struck a deal with Mexican pop star Thalia
Sodi to develop an edgy, eye-popping apparel line. The Thalia collection, which was launched in a limited number of stores with an eye toward young Hispanic women, has been a
crossover triumph and will be made available across the chain’s 1,500 stores. It is expected to bring in $100 million in 2004.

Not to be out-Latinized, Sears opted to focus more on the less acculturated Hispanic shopper with Cuban born Lucy Pereda. She’s known to many as the Hispanic Martha Stewart — she hosts a home decorating show on Spanish language Galavisión. Her line, the Lucy Pereda collection, debuted about a year ago in 227 stores in women’s apparel and has since expanded to include shoes, handbags, jewelry, and sleepwear.

Kohl’s Latina celebrity of choice, Daisy Fuentes, was chosen for her crossover appeal with Latinas and non-Latinas alike. Fuentes, a popular fashion model and television personality, began her career as a DJ on MTV — in English. The Daisy Fuentes line of women’s apparel will, according to Kohl’s, eventually include shoes, jewelry and sleepwear.

Speaking of crossover, the Latino celebrity designer phenomenon crosses genders as well. Rock guitarist Carlos Santana’s brand of sexy heeled shoes for ladies, aptly called “Carlos by Carlos Santana,” has reputedly been a winner at Macy’s, Robinsons-May and Nordstrom.

Moderator’s Comments: Are these alliances a viable strategy for revitalizing stodgy retailer brands or keeping hot retailers “caliente?” Is the popularity
of Latino celebrities a fad, or are there bigger demographic and social trends at work?

It’s no wonder that the Hispanic apparel market has captured the imagination of retailers. Mediamark Research found that Hispanic women spend more of their
income on clothing than any other ethnic group in the United States. NPD gauged the Hispanic apparel market to be just over $15 billion in 2003.

Still, the gold ring will likely go to companies that are able to maximize the crossover factor. Case in point is the original diva inspired collection
— JLO by Jennifer Lopez. Her line of casual sportswear and perfume has expanded to career wear, dresses, children’s apparel, jewelry, hats, handbags, outerwear and swimwear.
It’s got amazing teen appeal in department stores and boutiques around the country and abroad. Her latest store — Moscow.

David Morse – Moderator

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