Selling the next ‘Fashion Star’

From left, buyers Caprice Willard, Terron Schaefer and Nicole Christie bid for the looks that designers send down the runway on “Fashion Star,” premiering Tuesday at 9:30 on NBC.

“Fashion Star,” the newest reality competition series on NBC, is an on-demand fashion show. The winning clothing sent down the catwalk by aspiring designers one night hits racks at H&M, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue the very next morning.

So how do these designers win the approval — and buying power — of such iconic retailers? The people making those decisions, bidding against each other for new looks during each episode, weigh in.

Terron Schaefer, buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue
“It is all about contemporary fashion,” Schaefer explains. “This is a whole new concept in terms of television. Most reality shows, or all reality shows up until now, you vote with your telephone. But this one, you vote with your wallet, and you wear the winner tomorrow.”

Caprice Willard, buyer at Macy’s
“I think the thing to understand is that ‘Fashion Star’ gives us all an opportunity to have high fashion be accessible to every American,” Willard says. “[Each retailer] represents different aspects of the American consumer, so that particular design may have a difference in use in each of our stores. But the essence of the item will be perfectly represented, whether it’s in Macy’s, Saks or H&M.”

Nicole Christie, buyer at H&M
“We were really looking for a designer that had range and could bring something new to the runway,” Christie says. “At the end of the day, the design speaks for itself. I think it’s quite natural that we had some competition up there when bidding for garments on the runway every week.”

Celebrity mentors
Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and John Varvatos serve as celebrity mentors to the designer contestants. What tips were they hoping to pass along to the next “Fashion Star”?
   
“We really wanted to mentor all of these designers for having a lifestyle brand,” says Simpson, “not just trying to set trends, but to weave in and out of great trends, really making a name for yourself.”


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