With Retail Judges, Saleability Becomes Star of New Fashion Reality Show

In Marketing, What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories MagazineLeave a Comment

Universal City, CA–How’s this for a fashion design reality show concept? Have aspiring designers make clothes and see if the stores actually want them.

Because while shows like “Project Runway” are chock full of colorful personalities and workroom drama–and yes, talent–the viewer is often left wondering if the winning designs are ever produced. And if so, where can one buy them?

NBC’s new reality series “Fashion Star” on Tuesday nights (which made its debut last night) has a whole new approach: putting saleability front and center.

The 14 aspiring designers are mentored by Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos, but ultimately, it’s the featured retailers–Macy’s, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue–who make or break the episode.

Viewers can buy winning designs from "Fashion Star" directly from retailer websites

The show features Caprice Willard, vice president and regional planning manager of women’s apparel at Macy’s; Nichole Christie, former buyer and current communications manager for H&M; and Terron Schaefer, executive vice-president and chief creative officer from Saks Fifth Avenue. All act as buyers for their respective retailers.

Each retail buyer gets the opportunity to purchase presented items, say, place a $50,000 or $80,000 order, and put them for sale on the store’s website the next day (the show is taped in advance). The winning designer will get a total of $6 million in orders for their designs from all three retailers.

The mentors have hefty resumes as well. Jessica Simpson’s brand, which is owned by Camuto Group, includes product categories, including footwear, handbags, denim, eyewear, lingerie, jewelry, outerwear, belts, luggage, ready-to-wear and coming soon, “tween.” Nicole Richie has a clothing line Winter Kate as well as her House of Harlow 1960 apparel and accessories brand, and John Varvatos is an award-winning menswear designer.

Most designers showed apparel, and the one that featured accessories was criticized for presenting them on another designer’s apparel! In the end, the judges kept her to see what she would do next.

Stay tuned each week as the contestants advance or are let go. Don’t expect theatrical runway shows or crazy challenges a la “Project Runway.” This show is all about being commercial.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.