New 'Distinction': Ryan Seacrest launches men's label with color-match system

September 29, 2014

Television host, producer, radio personality and entrepreneur Ryan Seacrest has added a clothing label to his ever-growing empire, an exclusive-to-Macy’s assortment of men’s tailored clothing and accessories aimed squarely at the millennial male. It launched online in mid-August and at 150 brick-and-mortar stores earlier in September.

Called Ryan Seacrest Distinction, it’s not so much designed by the hardest-working man in TV as it is inspired by his on-screen wardrobe of sharply tailored three-piece suits, spread-collar dress shirts and crisply folded pocket squares.

"He’s impeccably well-dressed and he does a lot of (wardrobe) changes" said Richard Carroll, senior vice president and creative director of Randa Accessories, the company behind the neckwear, belts and furnishings side of the line. "And if you close your eyes when someone says ‘Ryan Seacrest,’ you instantly have a mental picture of what he’s wearing."

(For the record, Seacrest is a longtime fan of Burberry, not only wearing its suits and tuxedos extensively on the air but also taking pains to give the British heritage brand and its creative director Christopher Bailey red-carpet shoutouts.)

Carroll said Randa came up with the idea of hitching their wardrobe wagon to Seacrest’s star about a year and a half ago, after realizing the "American Idol" host was, in Carroll’s words, a "validator and actuator."

"When he started wearing slim ties we noticed that slim ties were doing well," Carroll said, "and we noticed that people were noticing and identifying these things while they were watching TV, while they were on Twitter, on Facebook and things like that."

At the same time, companies like Randa (including PVH, which makes the Seacrest line’s dress shirts, and Peerless, which makes the suits) have been trying to find ways to tap into a lucrative emerging demographic."From the sales perspective, it isn’t just the older gentleman coming in and refreshing his wardrobe and replacing key pieces," said Carroll, "it’s the young millennial guy coming in and looking for new ways to express himself."

Durand Guion, vice president and men’s fashion director at Macy’s, says a certain segment of that demographic holds particular appeal. "Millennial can be anywhere from 13 to 30," Guion said, "But we’re talking about the college and post-college guy — as well as the over-30 guy. He’s discovering tailored clothing and dress furnishings very differently than we discovered them. We know he’s changing his thought process, and we want more of him as he matures with us and stays with us."

The entire collection will be merchandised together in one place in Macy’s stores, all the better to showcase a novel feature of the new collection — a color/number matching system called "Style Made Smart" that organizes jackets, trousers, shirts and ties into four numbered color categories to aid the suit-wearer in putting together an outfit.

Hangtags also offer up additional pairing and styling tips. While that may sound a lot like Garanimals for grown-ups, the styling suggestions have their roots in the way Seacrest and his longtime stylist Miles Siggins have arranged his workday wardrobe.

"Everything’s sorted," Siggins said of his client’s closet, "shirts, ties and suit (are all organized) on one hanger so you can just grab the hanger and go to the airport."

"We’re always in a rush; we never have enough time to do a fitting or to try something on," Seacrest said, "So any system that make it seamless and quick and lets you know that you’re probably not going to get it wrong is a good system."

"As for his input into the look and feel of the clothes that bear his name, Seacrest is quick to admit he’s not steeped in the fashion world. "I often don’t use the right words so I try to articulate what I’m thinking by referring to architecture or other inspiration," he said. "But I definitely have a point of view and I know what I like and what fits me well, so we started with that. And then (we) widened it and broadened it out into an entire line."

Among the inspirations Seacrest cited for the launch collection were the ’50s and ’60s, Frank Sinatra in his Rat Pack days and Mid-Century Modern architecture.

The result is serviceable, accessible assortment of 100% wool suits and suit separates. Jackets, which nip in slightly at the waist, are two-button with 2 ½ inch wide lapels (notch or peak) and side vents. Trousers are slim-fitting and flat-front, and dress shirts are spread collar with a two-button notch cuff. Accent colors in the fall and winter 2014 launch collection included purple (edging a white pocket square) and dusky orange (paired with navy blue in a bow tie).

The suits for this initial season hew to the classics — variations on solid blacks, blues, browns and grays as well as a gray pinstripe and subtle blue window pane. The range of dress shirts is only slightly more adventurous (if you consider wearing a micro houndstooth check or a tattersall an adventure). The real breakout stars of the debut collection are the accessories and furnishings, thanks to a deep bench of detail.

Belt buckles are laser-etched with herringbone patterns, tie clips are engraved with basket weave patterns and polished rhodium cufflinks showcase a glint of laser-engraved plaid pattern at the wrist. The neckwear (which includes long ties and both pre-tied and untied versions of the bowtie) are awash with color and pattern in paisleys, plaids, pin dots, ginghams and stripes.

"I love attention to detail," Seacrest said during a press preview. "I said to them (his partners), with each component of this line, "tell me about the depth of detail, — how far we can go and (still) keep it accessible and affordable."

The answer seems to be pretty far. Sold as separates, a three-piece suit costs $630, and building a complete look (including dress shirt, necktie, tie clip, belt and pocket square) runs less than $865.

With Seacrest appearing in a series of fall TV commercials and print ads for the new label, hosting the recent "Fashion Rocks" event in New York City and his traditional "American Idol" duties, you probably won’t be able to throw a TV remote between now and the new year without crossing paths with threads from the fledgling fashion mogul.



McClatchy-Tribune Information Services