Blog: Leonie BarrieCool clothing

Leonie Barrie | 28 May 2008

Struggling US retailer Sears is hoping that rapper LL Cool J will bring some much-needed harmony to its apparel lines.

The store group which is part of Sears Holdings along with the Kmart and Roebuck chains, is currently being restructured amid falling sales, and hopes a tie-up with the rap star and actor on an exclusive clothing line could be the answer to its prayers.

As Irv Neger, senior vice president at Sears Apparel, admits, the retailer needs to increase its “relevance” in the apparel industry, and “bring fashions to our customers that are both on-trend and affordable.”

He describes LL Cool J as an “aspirational label that can be accessible to all” and says Sears chose to partner with the rapper because of his broad demographic appeal that represents a cross-section of the American public.

It’s by no means the first retailer to partner with a star to add a unique offer to its line-up – although its choice of celebrity has certainly raised a few eyebrows.

The 40-year-old rapper has a career spanning 20 years and a 13th album due out this year – in marked contrast to Kohl's Corp which has partnered with rock star Avril Lavigne, and DKNY Jeans which has joined forces with actress Rachel Bilson.

Of course it could also be a masterstroke. The link could help Sears reach out to urban consumers, particularly African Americans, it hasn't so far managed to address. And his longevity might be a plus too, helping to boost the brand’s credibility.

But with Sears is expected to report a drop in first-quarter earnings later this week, all eyes are more likely to be on the lines it isn’t selling rather than those in the pipeline for autumn.

US: Sears to launch LL Cool J clothing line


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