“We were approached by many names over the years, but I knew Jessica was special from the first time I met her,” Camuto acknowledged. Today, Simpson is an established fashion designer and her new NBC television show, “Fashion Star,” has garnered much buzz. Acting as a mentor to upcoming designers, Simpson applies her knowledge of the business and understanding of fashion to help the designers make their dreams come true each and every week.
Among the products in the Jessica Simpson Collection are footwear, sportswear, dresses, handbags, jewelry, fashion accessories and now, girls’ products. “Jessica partners with top companies in the industry who are committed to developing great product,” Camuto points out. “At the end of the day, it all comes down to product, and Jessica has a keen sense of materials, prints and what works on a woman’s body. She is inspiring to work with, as she is very committed to developing a vision for her brand and helping women globally feel great not only about themselves but also about their bodies.”
One of the Jessica Simpson Collection’s key brand partners is Jones Group. The company is a leading designer, marketer and wholesaler of branded apparel, footwear and accessories. “Jones has been a great partner in building out the apparel piece of the business,” Camuto notes. “They are dedicated to the brand vision and understand the design sensibility.
“Parlux has also been a terrific collaborator for the fragrance line,” he continues. “Jessica is coming out with her fourth fragrance this summer and works closely with Parlux on all aspects of the business, from the scent to the bottle and the packaging. She is involved in every element of the business.” Core brand partnerships are at the center of the successful business that Simpson has built.
Jessica Simpson’s style is characterized by its broad appeal. “For Jessica, it’s all a reflection of who she is and her perception as a style icon,” Camuto explains. “The great thing about Jessica is she is so open from a design standpoint. There’s not an item that is developed for the line she hasn’t seen and approved in initial and mid-design meetings as well as final approvals. Jessica is involved … she really wants to make it accessible for the consumer – real girls, real women – buying her products. You always want to give surprising value, and you always want to be able to demonstrate you have your own point of view.”
But despite her strong fashion and business sense, Simpson is open to new ideas. “She understands the business of fashion,” Camuto underscores. “She thinks critically about what she develops, from the location of a pocket to the drape of a dress to the shape of a pair of her sunglasses.
“Her involvement has been very authentic from the beginning. Jessica has a tremendous ability to understand her market and really relate to the girls and women buying her product. She designs for women of all shapes and sizes. We really service a broad range of customers.”
First approached to design and produce footwear, Camuto saw tremendous opportunity in Simpson and believed in her and her vision for the line. Acquiring the master license, Camuto rolled out a capsule footwear collection in 2005 based on Simpson’s role in a big-screen remake of the television show, “The Dukes of Hazzard.” Then in 2006, Simpson looked strategically to develop additional accessories categories, launching handbags, coats and sunglasses.
“We’ve continually remained true to the brand’s core statement – great fashion at a surprising value,” Camuto states. Today, the Jessica Simpson Collection is sold in more than 30 countries.
“It’s very much a global brand today, and we are looking at the international market as an area for significant expansion,” Camuto states.
Out of the Closet
New areas of growth for the Jessica Simpson Collection include maternity wear, baby and toddler apparel, home, tabletop and furniture. “There’s still so much growth potential for the brand,” Camuto points out. “Ideas and inspiration come from Jessica, and we are seeing so many opportunities in the marketplace for the brand to continue to grow.
“She lets her design team shop her closet to get inspiration and loves vintage shopping – the vision really starts with her – it’s a great partnership,” Camuto says. “We have dedicated design teams and best-in-class partners. The inspiration at every stage of the brand development and product extensions is Jessica.”
Camuto attributes the brand’s rise to billion-dollar prominence to Simpson’s innate appeal. “People really relate to her and respond to her at her personal appearances,” Camuto declares. “She is genuine in every way, and she has great insight into what real women want to wear and how they want to dress. She is a born designer and fashion enthusiast and innately understands the business.
“The product has gotten a ton of press and editorial support,” he concludes. “It’s not just great fashion at a price – Jessica engages with her fan base through social media, events and in her everyday life. It is that relatability that has catapulted the brand to be so dominant in the retail landscape.” Fashion is a logical progression of Simpson’s career.
Jessica Simpson’s Career
Jessica Simpson was born in Abilene, Texas, and began singing at her local Baptist church as a child. She recorded her first album, “Jessica,” while in high school.
Columbia Records’ Tommy Mottola signed Simpson to his label when she was 16, and she left high school to begin her recording career.
In 1999, Simpson released her first single, “I Want to Love You Forever,” followed by her debut album, “Sweet Kisses,” which went double-platinum.
More success followed the debut of “Newlyweds” on MTV in 2003, which made Simpson and her then-new husband, Nick Lachey, household names. Soon afterwards, she released her third album, “In This Skin.”
That same year, Simpson and Nick also starred in “The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour” and hosted “Saturday Night Live.” In 2005, Simpson made her film debut as Daisy Duke in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
More film roles were to follow for Simpson, with “Employee of the Month” and “Blonde Ambition.”
Next up was a line of hair and beauty products with Ken Paves on the Home Shopping Network and the Jessica Simpson Collection, which is a line of handbags and footwear.
In 2004, Simpson launched a line of edible perfume, lip gloss and other beauty products under her Dessert Beauty brand.
The success continued when the Jessica Simpson Collection became the first celebrity brand to break $1 billion in annual sales. Simpson introduced a line of intimates, and she debuted her fragrance, “Fancy,” in 2008.
Further broadening her appeal, Simpson produced and starred in VH1’s “The Price of Beauty” in 2010, where she traveled the world to explore different types of beauty rituals.
In 2011, Simpson announced that she and her fiance, NFL football player Eric Johnson, were expecting their first child. In March, she appeared pregnant on the cover of Elle magazine.
Also in March, Simpson began serving as a celebrity mentor on NBC’s “Fashion Star.” The concept of the show is that designers audition their lines in front of three buyers – one from Macy’s, another from H&M and a third from Saks Fifth Avenue – and three mentors – Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos – work with the designers on their lines.