After breakout TV show “Empire” ended its first season with strong ratings, Fox, the network behind “Empire,” has embarked on a partnership with upscale retail chain Saks Fifth Avenue to create a clothing line based on the series about a hip hop music company.
“The show has really quickly tapped into the cultural zeitgeist,” said Jeffrey Godsick, president of consumer products at 20th Century Fox. He said viewers and consumers are intrigued by characters like flashy billionaire Lucious Lyons and his ex-wife Cookie Lyons, who is a fur and animal print fan.
“We were looking for a partner who would have designers to speak to different cast members and members of the audience,” said Godsick.
The “Empire”-inspired fashion collection includes items like a pair of Jimmy Choo animal print knee-high boots, which would easily fit in with Cookie Lyons’ wardrobe.
“Designers now are telling us our show is a place to showcase some of their pieces,” said actress Taraji P. Henson, who plays Cookie. “And I’m excited about that.”
In addition to the fashion collection, which includes jewelry and accessories, there are “Empire”- themed windows at the Saks stores in New York and Beverly Hills.
“It’s really about trying to differentiate yourself,” explains Marshal Cohen, the NPD Group’s fashion industry expert.
“If you start a brand from scratch, it could take two to three years to get recognition,” Cohen said. “When you bring in celebrities and entertainment, you get instant recognition.”
Cohen adds that that could mean up to 20 percent growth for the brand as a whole, and would allow Saks to reach out to a new, younger, more diverse audience.
Fox’s Godsick said there might be tie-ins with other companies too, driven by Empire’s diverse demographic and enthusiastic fan base.
“All of those things add to the fever and urgency about Empire,” Godsick said.
Season 2 of “Empire” premieres Wednesday on Fox.