Who will save retail? Who will keep the malls open and the brick-and-mortars running and the Sunglass Hut kiosks afloat? Who will reach into the deep, dark depths of the bargain bin and pull out pleated pants spun up with gold thread? Yes, who’s the Rumpelstiltskin of this modern age? He’s Ryan Seacrest, the host with the most. Who else could parlay his vast master of ceremonies gigs into a small fortune with fashion and beauty products? Kim Kardashian, maybe. And guess who gave Kim Kardashian her big break? Ryan Seacrest.
Maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Sure, Seacrest is not literally saving the department-store industry from the intractable creep of the retail apocalypse. Jeff Bezos wouldn’t stand for that. But according to a Business of Fashion feature, Seacrest‘s four-year-old suit brand—Ryan Seacrest Distinction—is on track to pull in $50 million in 2018 for its exclusive partner, Macy’s. Which sounds . . . pretty good!
It wasn’t so long ago that the big suit guy at Macy’s was none other than Donald Trump, whose suits debuted in 2011, and were often sold at a 70 percent discount, a classic department-store retail tactic. Trump’s heyday at Macy’s was short-lived; in 2015, the then-presidential primary candidate called immigrants from Mexico “rapists” in a campaign speech, and Macy’s cut ties shortly thereafter. Trump retaliated by calling his supporters to boycott the American business on Twitter.
Meanwhile, there was Seacrest, waiting in the wings with a suit line that had launched in 2014. The squeaky-clean public face of workaholism has had even greater appeals to younger customers, selling affordable suits in more sensible sizes. Thanks to a “real material issue” and “perceptual” problems among the typical Macy’s customer, the team changed the fit to “make it more mainstream and broader.” Now, as ever, the heart of America was not ready for aggressive tapering.
And then there are his twin mentors: Christopher Bailey (chief creative officer and president of Burberry) and Kris Jenner (You know Kris Jenner). Bailey and he go all the way back to 2010’s Season 9 of American Idol, when Burberry struck up a deal with Seacrest, and exclusively dressed the singing competition’s host. Seacrest credits the design heavyweight with teaching him everything he knows about how he wants to look and feel. Bailey demurs, though. “It’s incredibly rare to find somebody not formally trained who enjoys and has a vision for construction, pattern, fabrics, details, and fit, and whilst I would love to claim credit for his sharp and immaculate dress sense, it genuinely does come from Ryan himself,” Bailey told the fashion publication.
Which brings us to Jenner. Seacrest told B.O.F., “Kris Jenner and all of the family are some of the most brilliant marketers in the world, as you’ve been able to see with the empires they’ve been able to build together and individually.” Ah, yes. The teacher becomes the student, and thus is the natural cycle of the world, or at least the celebro-branding part of it.
There are other reasons that the suits are really taking off right now, including the line’s creative director, Matteo Gottardi, and the new addition of sportswear, for the more casual Ryan Seacrest cosplayer. For the more devoted Seacrest acolyte, though? Soon there will be skin care for men, a breed of human notoriously suspicious of anything smelling of “beauty.” He’s not even lending his name to the brand. It’s called Polished by Dr. Lancer. Dr. Lancer is a dermatologist to the stars who’s had a for-women line since the 80s, and polish is something you do to a shoe. Best of luck to Seacrest, the consummate salesman, in the New Year.Get Vanity Fair’s Cocktail HourOur essential brief on culture, the news, and more. And it's on the house.
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