By Rich Kane
By Joel Beers
By LP Hastings
By Dave Barton
By Patrice Wirth Marsters
By Erin DeWitt
By Taylor Hamby
By LP Hastings
It doesn’t take too much these days to “design” your own clothing label. And really, the cult of celebrity isn’t too much of a requirement anymore—just about everybody with a copy of Photoshop, a Threadless.com account and minimal screen-printing abilities is hawking T-shirts out of their garage.
Sure, most stars claim to have a personal hand in the actual design aspect of their clothing lines: sketching, picking out fabrics, cutting patterns . . . but I’m sure I’m not the only one who suspects Lauren Conrad’s eponymous clothing line of snoozy, solid-colored jersey knits is as fake as The Hills.
While there’s something intensely cheesy—not to mention embarrassing—about owning a pair of espadrilles with Jessica Simpson’s name on them, there have been a few choice celebrities who’ve managed to hold their own in the fashion world. Chloë Sevigny’s line for perennial hipster fave Opening Ceremony is a crowd-pleaser, even if most of the ’90s-centric pieces probably wouldn’t look good on anybody but Sevigny herself.
A personal favorite emerged just last fall: Elizabeth and James by Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen. Save the Uncle Jesse jokes: These gals have managed to narrow that eternal gap between designer and contemporary fashion with their flawless mix of masculine and feminine, bold and delicate, current and classic. Named after the Olsens’ younger sister and older brother, the label ardently claims that Mary-Kate and Ashley’s involvement is very much hands-on and that every single piece is their own brainchild.
And, for some reason, I totally believe it.
Since their you-got-it-dude years, Mary-Kate and Ashley have commanded their own empire of albums, books, movies, a Wal-Mart kids’ clothing line and more. They had amassed a $76 million fortune at 16, and both have become key movers and shakers in the high-fashion world—anything they touch skyrockets in popularity, from Balenciaga boots and bags to dumpy “bohemian” digs.
While the twins also head a much-more-upscale label called the Row, the real star is Elizabeth and James, whose spring ’09 collection reeks of practical wearability, with contemporary silhouettes and details that make it all incredibly up-to-date. And profitable: The labels brought in $35 million last year. Now what was it those girls were once famous for?
Elizabeth and James at Goat Boutique, 186 E. 16th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 645-1111; www.goatboutique.com; Laguna Supply, 210 Beach St., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-8850; Mi Place, 916 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 219-9919; Westerly, 2908 E. Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 313-7111; and Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom locations.