One is the grande dame of the high street, a reliable mainstay of the retail world that first opened its doors in 1909. The other is a family whose international fame began in 2007 when one of its members was featured in one of the most successful sex tapes of all time.
But Dorothy Perkins and the Kardashians have collaborated on a new fashion line in what analysts claim is an “unexpected” move by Arcadia supremo Sir Philip Green.
Last night, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian host a launch party for their designs in Mayfair. X Factor contestants and journalists were wafted in and out of photo opportunities with the stars, later expressing their eternal gratitude on Twitter. Photographers clamoured for shots of Kim’s notorious backside, the results of which were plastered on the front pages of showbiz websites just hours later. Tomorrow, in London’s Westfield mall, there is a signing event at midday. Fans have been warned they can’t camp overnight. Instead, they must take part in a scrum five hours in advance to become one of the lucky 500 to meet Kim, Kourtney and Khloe (who wasn’t present earlier in the week due to filming X Factor USA with Simon Cowell). The less devoted can “enjoy the event from the viewing areas”.
In the past five years, the Kardashian family has earned millions in merchandising deals, but their prominence is maintained through their reality television shows. E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians, hich sees the sisters shepherded around the world by their “momager” Kris Jenner for personal appearances, has aired 89 episodes, not including three spin-off series.
In the UK, the Kardashian clan has no presence on the terrestrial channels, but they have garnered a rabid fanbase due to the broadcasting of their antics on news sites. A Mail Online source told The Independent: “We know where Kim is in the world at any given time, and expect pictures throughout the day. Any Kim story has to be crammed with photos taking in as many angles as possible.”
It is unheard of for Dorothy Perkins collections to garner such attention. Jaana Jätyri, CEO of fashion forecaster of TrendStop, described the store as an “unexpected stockist” for such a collection. “The timing could not be more perfect for the Christmas party season,” she said, with a warning that the party-themed collection risks “alienating more mature loyal customers”.
Neil Saunders, managing director of retail analysts Conlumino, said the odd pairing could be a wise move by Sir Philip Green. “The rationale behind it is very clear: Sir Philip Green has seen with Topshop that celebrity endorsements really work. You can charge more for products because there’s a certain cachet and some fans will automatically buy pieces from the collection. The excitement around it can drive footfall in the stores.
“As a brand, Dorothy Perkins is nowhere near as visible as Topshop, and it isn’t seen as being too fashion forward. It’s for people who play it safe. It doesn’t appear to have had the same level of investment. This Kardashian collaboration has made it seem interesting again.”
In 2007, the first year of Kate Moss’s Topshop collaboration, the model’s wares were thought to have added 10 per cent to the store’s revenue. But in Glasgow, the Kardashian “Kollection” launch was more muted. Just two people turned up for the shop’s 8am opening.
And while Moss remains the darling of the high fashion world, Anna Wintour is reported to have personally banned Kim Kardashian from appearing in Vogue or attending the prestigious Costume Institute Gala.
The sisters are frequently the butt of jokes about a dumbed-down America (comedian Kathy Griffin claimed Kim once told her: “Reading names is so hard”), but it’s unlikely that they’ll dwell too heavily on any criticism from the British press about the collection’s quality. Kim is already on her fifth fragrance, while the brood recently inked a $40m deal to keep airing episodes of Keeping up With the Kardashians until 2015.