I was watching a “Kardashian Marathon” recently when I saw a commercial for the new Kardashian Kollection for Sears. At first it didn’t quite register, then it did, and the more I thought about it, the Kardashian and Sears brands seemed like the oddest of brand partnerships. When I think of Sears, my mind immediately heads to washers, dryers, socks and underwear—not Kardashian designer wear. I get that the Kardashian’s want to create a line of affordable clothing that can make all of the regular folk Kardashian-esque, but does Kenmore and Kardashian really belong under the same roof? Does one cheapen the other or is this a match made in reality TV and misguided retailer heaven?
The Kardashians are not the first to try to pull off designer brands in mass retail. It’s happening everywhere and seemingly with great success. Look at Kohl’s and Vera Wang. Kathy Ireland and Kmart. Isaac Mizrahi and Target. The difference though is these people were already established fashion icons. The Kardashians are just fashionable.
I guess you can say the Kardashian’s are models, in a way. Kim Kardashian was discovered through an explicit sex video that launched her “claim to fame.” Then, Ryan Seacrest discovered the entire Kardashian clan for a reality show. But what is their brand position, really? What do they stand for? opportunism comes to mind, but I hope there is something more.
To make their brand position even more confusing, I read earlier this week that Celebuzz has teamed up with the Kardashian Kollection and Sears to kick off a t-shirt design contest. What? The winner’s concept will be put into production for the next Kollection line, and they’ll also receive $1,000 to spend at Sears.
Talk about confusing brands! Now the Kardashian’s, Sears and Celebuzz are in the t-shirts business? Which is it then? T-shirts, designer wear, appliances? I’m confused. Maybe you the winner of the $1,000 will buy a new washer or dryer with their new-found fortune?
At HEASLEY&PARTNERS, we work every day defining brands for companies, products, programs and people. We look for what is Genuine, Meaningful and Different. Is the brand genuine to its audience, meaningful to the people it serves and different than the competition? I don’t believe the Kardashians or Sears are being “genuine” (except for their genuine desire to cash in from from each other). And what does Sears mean to Kardashian fans? What does Kardashian, a brand that’s all about $20 million engagement rings and being married to a pro basketball player) mean to Sears lovers?
Perhaps Sears is simply trying to attract a new, younger shopper and are hoping the K-Kollection can do it, that it’s “different” enough to drive new shoppers. I doubt Sears gave the Kardashian’s fashion foray a home expecting nothing in return; certainly they expect the brand to carry clout.
Before you think I am a Kardashian basher, guess again. I’m a fan, and avid viewer of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” They offer a good entertainment reality show. Not many families live the lifestyles they do, have their family dynamics and act out in such outlandish ways. But, that is what makes them entertaining, that is what makes them genuine, meaningful and different as a reality show family. But does it mean they are clothing designers? Does it mean they are a “brand fit” with Sears? Momanager, Kris Jenner may have taken the brand one step too far this time…in the wrong direction.
*Update- With the recent news of Kim Kardashian filing for divorce after only 72 days of marriage, business could be good but the Kardashian brand will most likely be damaged.
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