T.L. Stanley
November 10, 2000 AT 05:00 AM EST

Musician design

Sell a few million records, gather a rabid teen following, become a fashion plate, launch a clothing brand.

Might not seem like the most logical progression, but in the monkey-see, monkey-do dynamic that exists between rock stars and their fans, it’s becoming de rigueur for musicians and bands to have their own clothing lines. Everyone from Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell and ‘N Sync’s Chris Kirkpatrick to Puff Daddy and Wu-Tang Clan is either in the clothing business or readying a launch, with much of the product available online (linked, of course, to the artists’ well-trafficked sites).

Harwell, who describes his upcoming Spunout clothing line as ”Gap meets street meets urban,” says endorsing other brands doesn’t hold much appeal for him: ”If kids are buying the clothes I wear, why shouldn’t I just create my own? I don’t find a lot of stuff out there that caters to my taste. There are labels like FUBU from the hip-hop side, but there’s really not much from the rock side.”

”We’re following the trends and adding a different twist,” says Erin Myles, VP of operations for Kirkpatrick’s FuManSkeeto. ”The clothes have to stand on their own.” So too, in the end, do the websites.

This is a lively new site — from Russell (Def Jam Records/Phat Farm) Simmons — that’s fast become a destination for music and lifestyle info. In the ”buy sh*t” section: Smashing Grandpa T-shirts with silk-screened music icons (Mooks, Varcity, Alphanumeric, Ecko, Enyce). The right graphics, the right visuals, in an environment that revels in its musical roots. B+

As you may have already heard, this is Puff Daddy’s site, and home to his Sean John label. Also showcased: Phat Farm, Tag Rag, Cat, Spoon. Everything from tech pants and faux suede shirts to ponchos and nylon jackets. Good mix of urban labels, with good display — but if the clothes are so cool, why not show the front and back? Details matter. B

New York-based DJ Micro and partners, who ran the early-’90s dance club Caffeine, have just launched this site, which, they say, will feature original Caffeine-brand men’s apparel (and Buggirl). Its club-kid-friendly twills with 40-inch-wide legs, ripstop nylon jackets, and drawstring pants — already sold through Karmaloop.com and retailers Gadzooks, Hot Topic, and others — will be available within a month. B

(Link to Loserkids.com)
The boys in the band didn’t actually design these clothes from teen-friendly brands, but they do hype them through the ”Buy Blink 182 crap” button on their site. Message: Dress like us, and get a 30 percent discount. Clothes are cool; site’s a bit vanilla. C

Founded by ‘N Sync’s Kirkpatrick, this clothing company’s site is in revamp mode, so there’s nothing to see or buy here until later this fall. (Nordstrom stores will also carry FuManSkeeto gear in late November.) Once up, it’ll offer mostly girls’ fashion T-shirts and a full spring line including capris and lacy halters. Also on the horizon: boys’, skate, surf, bike, and club clothes. C

Wu-Tang Clan’s wear is offered up on a site that feels flat and sterile. If music inspired these beanies, corduroy pants, sweater vests, and snowsuits, it sure doesn’t show. Lowlights include the one pair of jeans for sale, which appear as if tossed onto a table and photographed using a third-rate camera. D

Tom Julian, a trend analyst at the New York ad agency Fallon Worldwide — not to mention the official fashion voice of Oscar.com — addresses one of our major concerns: Are these musician-endorsed clothes really cool, or are they just duds?

Hookt.com, Puffy’s line; $112
Urban branding at its best. It’s the kind of shirt you’d see in Abercrombie. The styling on the back makes the wearer’s shoulders look broad, which is a popular, trend-right silhouette.

Sold at fumanskeeto.com, ‘N Syncer Kirkpatrick’s line; $30
This kind of baseball shirt is in tons of music videos, so there’s a logical connection to music. Definitely cool and current. The color will keep going into 2001.

Sold at karmaloop.com, owned by the people who ran NYC’s Caffeine club; $54
They’re the same width from waist to ankle, which is important in this category. They’re also utilitarian, with side pockets for a CD player and cell phone.

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