An Introspective Look at Gwen’s Brands

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Back in March, Orange Coast magazine posted an interesting introspective on Gwen’s fashion brands (L.A.M.B., Harajuku Lovers and her fragrances) over the years and reached out to those close to her for answers. We all know that when Gwen first debuted L.A.M.B. in 2005 and it was a huge success with fans and fashion lovers everywhere.

Any L.A.M.B. lover and follower may have noticed the shortage of the line in retail stores and how it’s almost been impossible to find at some times. The blogger credits this to the line becoming more “mod” over the years (which big retailers now only choosing to sell the shoe line, naming L.A.M.B. the biggest celebrity collection) and a decline in sales.

The writer also touches on how Gwen has tip-toed around the issues of her brands but a representative for her says that Gwen has “absolutely plans to keep her lines going and growing” with talks of new licensing deals (L.A.M.B. alone has seen three different licensers in recent years). Typically, fans have been only able to find recent releases on either special flash sites (Ideeli, Hautelook, etc.) and specialty stores… which can be frustrating. A representative for Coty Inc. (which distributed all of Gwen’s fragrances in the past) has also confirmed that they have no plans with Gwen for the future.

It’s a great read and definitely worth taking a look at if you’re interested. As huge L.A.M.B. lovers here at the site, we’re always looking forward to the latest collections and what’s next from Gwen!

We posted below our favorite parts of the article below and highly recommend heading over to the website for the full feature. Thank you to our good friend Christina for sharing the link with us.

Soon thereafter, the pricey L.A.M.B. spun off the cutesy Harajuku Lovers line of accessories and more affordable apparel. Both labels would go on to partner with Coty Prestige for fragrances. By 2010 the fashion press was touting combined annual retail sales for the two lines of $150 million to $200 million—not bad for someone who likes to call herself “just a girl,” and talk about how she never, ever thought all this would happen to her.

But that was then.

Today, as Stefani and No Doubt bandmates continue to promote last September’s “Push and Shove,” the group’s first album in 11 years, the L.A.M.B. and Harajuku Lovers apparel that once was available in this country at hundreds of retail outlets, including high profile department stores, is now sold mostly online and at specialty stores. (A Stefani handler called sales “vibrant” at more than 100 such stores in the U.S., and said the line is carried in an equal number overseas, though she declined to provide sales figures.) The signature fragrances are wafting away. As of last year, Coty quietly discontinued its L.A.M.B. products in the U.S.—while maintaining partnerships with Beyoncé, Céline Dion, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Lady Gaga, and others.

But even as Stefani’s signature duds no longer line department store racks, L.A.M.B.’s founder has maintained her cool. No one expects Orange County’s ultimate grrrlpower icon to pack up her fabrics and notions anytime soon.

As early as 1996 the singer was dropping hints about her desire to start a fashion line. She was working with stylist Deborah Viereck, whose celebrity clients included Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell, and Marilyn Manson, for whom Viereck created a satanic look. As the stylist told Women’s Wear Daily: “[Stefani] goes through phases. At first it was like a Chicano gang member look, but with touches like reflective strips. Then she started getting real sparkly. We do things that catch the light a lot, like sequin pants. … Contrast is one of the most important elements of her clothing. It’s almost like a cartoon-animated style.”

When discussing L.A.M.B., Stefani has never sounded disingenuous. Pressed by Glamour, she once admitted that a fashion career was her backup plan, explaining, “I know I need to feel passionate and be creative to have a feeling of self-worth. So when the music part goes away, I want to be able to still feel the power I feel when I write songs.”

Stefani’s every career move, as well as some personal ones, have been the topic of media coverage. Women’s magazines and fashion rags, in particular, delight in asking about her sons, Kingston James McGregor, 6, and Zuma Nesta Rock, 4, and how their rock ’n’ roll fashion designer mom does it all while maintaining those fabulous abs. Stefani plays along—but is gifted at deflecting questions she doesn’t want to answer.

Pre-motherhood, Stefani’s interviews had a rowdy tone, peppered with the f-word. More recent interviews suggest she has matured, or at least undergone serious media coaching. She now keeps her language and emotions in check, in comments that collectively are cookie-cutter: She hates having to work out, but does it anyway so she can wear the clothes she likes; it’s tough being a working mom; she loves, loves, loves to shop; given her druthers, she’d spend her time in bed, watching TV and snacking; she wants to look good in order to please her matinee idol-handsome husband, the front man for the rock band Bush and a topic of tabloid chatter in his own right. The couple marked their 10th anniversary last September. A paparazzo photographed the smiling pair holding hands on a celebratory night out.

Stefani hasn’t said that much, lately, about her fashion lines for grown-ups, but has admitted that her multicareer and family responsibilities are a tough balancing act. (This despite her TV spots for the new Windows Phone that make multitasking look so easy.) “I was definitely swimming upstream,” she told Marie Claire while promoting “Push and Shove.” “There’s no way to do all these things.” She was a no-show at the most recent Fashion Weeks because they conflicted with her kids’ school schedule, telling Britain’s Elle: “I can’t miss the first week of kindergarten. I just can’t.”

Kingston’s kindergarten debut coincided with L.A.M.B.’s hiring of designer Paula Bradley to do “the heavy lifting,” according to Vogue.

If she’s stepping back from one line, though, Stefani has cleverly fused her status as rock-fashion’s coolest mom into a high-profile relationship with Target on Harajuku Mini, a fanciful fashion line for babies and children, with prices ranging from $4 to $30. Says Target’s Erica Julkowski: “Stefani’s playful style and unique design aesthetic made her an ideal partner.” As of January, that playful style extends to dressing up stuffed animals: Harajuku Lovers teamed with Build-A-Bear Workshop stores for Harajuku Hugs, a line of fashions for kids’ furry friends. All this kid stuff gives her an ideal customer base for the future, when the tykes are grown and ready to buy Harajuku Lovers or L.A.M.B.

But other partnerships are ending. “We have no future plans to produce any new fragrances with Gwen Stefani,” says Coty representative Brittany Crump. Meanwhile, the Harajuku fragrance line has been relegated to what are known as “tier-three retailers” such as T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s. As for L.A.M.B., Nordstrom and Macy’s carry the label’s lethal-looking shoes—Stefani’s rep says they’re the most successful of all celebrity line footwear— but clothing is tough to find. Owners of several local boutiques say they stopped buying a few seasons back when it ceased appealing to their customers.

“It got too mod,” says Christina Armijo, co-owner of Skye Montgomery in Corona del Mar. “But we loved it in the beginning.”

It’s difficult to tell if Stefani is distressed by the ebbing of her fashion enterprises, because she isn’t talking. At least not to us. Multiple requests to speak with her and her backup team about her work in the world of needles and threads, and the business side of fashion, were turned down or ignored. Only as we neared deadline for this story did a Stefani rep speak to us, briefly, and then only for purposes of clarification. She also stressed that Stefani “absolutely plans to keep her lines going and growing,” and that talks are underway with potential new licensees.

Soffe formerly served as executive vice president for women’s apparel at Nordstrom when Stefani’s line was the cornerstone brand for the Advance Contemporary department. “Oh my God, it was huge,” she remembers. “We launched it with Gwen. We did a lot of advertising, some personal appearances … .” When L.A.M.B. stopped performing for Nordstrom, the store stopped buying. “It hadn’t evolved in terms of style,” says Soffe. “Look, there’s a bell curve to everything. When Gwen created the L.A.M.B. collection it was at the beginning of that bell curve … Now there are a ton of celebrity designers and they’re at every [price] range.”

10 Replies to “An Introspective Look at Gwen’s Brands”

  1. That article made me kinda sad. Too bad her fashion empire is falling apart, but maybe it’s better for Gwen. She sure has way too many things going on in her life.

  2. Gwen just doesn’t seem to be as invested with lines as much as before. It be nice to see her do more interviews, presentations n appearances but i think she just got too much in her plate. Aside from her family, No Doubt has pretty much been her número UNO priority in the past years. It be nice to have Andrea Lieberman back as well. I have a feeling she’ll relaunch harajuku lovers n lamb pretty soon.

  3. It’s weird… Her fashion empire is crumbling as is her music career. It seems as if they just don’t care anymore… Who knows. Sad days

  4. I loved her lines during her solo days. It was young and hip with a Gwen twist. I haven’t liked much since then though. It shows in the line that she’s as involved creatively anymore. I’m kind of surprised it hasn’t gone under to be honest. She seems to be letting all aspects of her career slip away. That’s her choice, but I hope she finds her way back to it some day!

  5. It’s no surprise… I know ND tried it real hard with the last record but L.A.M.B. is directly dependent on ND/Gwen’s popularity and it’s not their fault Push and Shove wasn’t successful but that was the reason for their absence from tv, red carpets.

    I’m certain they’ll do better with the next one and L.A.M.B. will regain it’s popularity.

  6. What’s really sad about it is that she used to be SO passionate about L.A.M.B. It was her “baby”, her childhood dream. I know her kids are far more important, but somehow it saddens me to see how she really lets her entrie career slip away in favour of being a “traditional” woman/wife/mother. Gavin is touring the world and still playing the “rockstar” at the same time. I’m not sure if her current situation really was ever a choice, or rather something that slowly happend, because it’s what was “expected” from her after she became a mother. Just look at the ND guys: They all have stuff going on besides ND and their families while Gwen slowly lets go of everything that used to be important for her.

  7. These comments are really awful to read about Gwen! At the end of the day, I wish I knew what Gwen really thought about it all. It’s weird that I don’t know Gwen because I feel so close to her, I wish me and Gwen could just have a heart-to-heart about how she truly felt. I got sad when I saw the decline in L.A.M.B etc….. But at the end of the day, Gwen is 43 now, she has been incredibly successful over the years, she has done so many things. The last thing I would ever want is Gwen’s successful careers to be over; what if Gwen is satisfied with being a loving, caring mother though? Is that not enough for a woman who has already done so much with her life? I very much want Gwen to dominate the music scene again and for there to be shows with ’20 years of Stefani-success’ and I very much want to see Gwen back rocking wonderful L.A.M.B shows at New York fashion week and I want to see Gwen making all the public appearances with tv adverts and making tv appearances but we will just have to see, I’m sure Gwen could have everything if she really wanted it! At the end of the day, it must be up to Gwen what makes it and what might slip away, so what will be will be! x

  8. Jam, I agree but I’m sure she wants to make more music with ND otherwise she and the guys wouldn’t have worked with Pharrell and Planet VI and she seemed REALLY excited about it as did Tom and the rest of the guys too, I’m sure!

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