LL Cool Eddie

What do a 40-year old suburban male looking to buy a hammer, a family shopping for a washer/dryer, and a 16-year old urban hip-hop-inspired girl all have in common? Well if you ask Eddie Lampert, they'll all be shopping at Sears.

In yet another effort to push 'the softer side of Sears' and get apparel to consistently not bleed, Sears teamed up with L.L. Cool J for a line of apparel targeted at young men and women.

Those of you who know me well also know that I will very rarely comment on fashion. Analytics is my strength - fashion is not (though that's why I employ a fashion consultant here at Research Edge). But this one is tough to resist a quick comment.

Personally, I like LL Cool J --- which is probably a contra-indicator in itself. But let's face some facts. The guy is 40-years old, and went from the poster child for rap music in the 1980s, to making 1-off appearances in 30-Rock and House and taking on supporting actor roles in semi-successful movies (Deep Blue Sea, and Rollerball).

In order for a person to launch a successful brand - especially with no real pre-existing fashion persona - there needs to be a consumer connection that is nothing short of massive. Sean-John did it. But Diddy was absolutely committed to the fashion scene (and had J Lo to help). Tony Hawk did it (Quiksilver exclusive to Kohl's), and has proven that he has remarkable staying power and relevance to the skate consumer almost in a (scaled down) Jordan-esque way. But there have been no shortage of failures. Paris Hilton for starters. A shocker to me is Beyonce's lack of traction.

I don't know about you, but if I have to put my money on Beyonce or LL Cool J, Beyonce will get it every time. LL Cool J's new album (#13) due next month had better be one heck of a blockbuster.

Given that this line is at best $200mm, or about 0.5% of sales, I've probably already dedicated too much effort over the past 10 minutes typing. But the bottom line is that I can think of half a dozen apparel initiatives that make more sense for SHLD than going down this path (one of which is not selling apparel at all).

I'll be curious to hear what my consultant says about this one.

(Acting chronology courtest of IMDB)

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