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'American Idol' to Launch Clothing Line at Kohl's -- Without the 'Idol' Name

They're 'Authentic Icon' Duds

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The Authentic Icon line at Kohl's.
The Authentic Icon line at Kohl's.

The latest extension of the popular "American Idol" TV show won't carry the program's name.

Over the years, the producers of what has long been the nation's most-watched TV show have slapped the "American Idol" name on everything from ice cream to Barbie dolls. When it came to launching a fashion line at Kohl's next month, however, executives felt it best to leave the show name back at Fox.

"We're working to make sure it lives independently from 'American Idol,'" said David Luner, exec VP-consumer products and interactive, Fremantle Media Enterprises, which owns the "Idol" franchise and produces it.

That said, the Authentic Icon fashion line will be incorporated into this season of "American Idol."

Kohl's will run TV ads for the line during the show, said Julie Gardner, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Kohl's, in a emailed statement. And Kohl's will also help promote the program with in-store, print and web ads, along with other marketing.

CKX's 19 Entertainment, which produces the show with Fremantle, is also involved. The producers will get some royalties for their part in the deal.

The Authentic Icon line -- it shares the AI initials with "American Idol" -- will be available at Kohl's and at Kohl's.com for six weeks starting April 20. Clothes will be positioned in the stores' juniors' and young men's departments.

The line coincides with a move this year to weave more fashion into "Idol" itself. Designer Tommy Hilfiger was introduced last week as a sort of guide to help the contestants improve their images as they move forward in the contest. Other talent shows such as NBC's "The Voice" and Fox's and Fremantle's "The X-Factor" already employ a conceit in which judges coach contestants as they progress.

American Icon at Kohl's
American Icon at Kohl's

"Idol" ratings have gradually declined as the show has progressed to its current season, its 11th, but the program's backers say they think its age and relative staying power -- it still draws at least 17 million viewers per airing most weeks -- gives them added freedom to test "Idol's'' true reach. "Any show that 's in its 11th year, you get an opportunity to take some chances to look at some categories that you wouldn't have normally done in the early life" of the program, said Fremantle's Mr. Luner.

While it may be surprising to hear this is the first "Idol" clothing line in the U.S. show's history, the producers said they were merely waiting until the proper business factors came together and until the show established credibility in the fashion world. "Imagine, the No. 1 music show didn't have a musical partner until Season 7, when iTunes stepped up," said Mr. Luner.

Kohl's also sells "Idol" judge Jennifer Lopez's clothing line.

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