By Kenzie Bryant. Photos: Getty Images, Courtesy of HSN.
Welcome to Celebrity Side Hustles, where our most beloved stars explain how their passion projects led to second careers.
Sheryl Crow is the first to admit she’s new to the branding game, though she’s been in the business of making music since her days as Michael Jackson’s backup singer.
“I’m of a generation that ‘branding’ wasn't a part of being a musician or a songwriter. That’s a new thing,” she told Vanity Fair on a recent phone call. “I’m always doing stuff that‘s interesting to me and if it works out in my favor that’s great as far as my music career is concerned, but otherwise, I try not to think about my music as a brand.”
Even now that Sheryl Crow has created “Sheryl Crow,” her eponymous HSN clothing line, a hallmark of celebrity brand-building, she’s no closer to feeling comfortable in the modern limelight. The title track to her new album, Be Myself, which debuts on April 21, eight days after the collection airs on HSN, skewers the trappings of contemporary fame-making. She sings about taking an Uber to a juice bar to see a new band play. It got “99 million followers in only one day,” but the song asks, “How many selfies can you take before you look like a jerk?”
The line, a passion project that Crow didn’t necessarily intend to coincide with the release of the album, compliments the sentiment of “be myself” to a literal “T.” The heart of the design is the lyric inscriptions—every piece has words printed in it or on it, but they’re most obvious on message T-shirts. The tone is opposite of the cool irony of Vetements or any of the other stark, black-and-white looks that have been trending as of late. They could be the philosophical cousin to the message tees of fashion week’s fall 2017, which saw shirts emblazoned with messages like, “The future is female” and “Stronger than fear.” Stylistically, Crow’s are colorized and fringe-ified in a way that might appeal to a wide range American customers, with everything from “You’re my favorite mistake” to “Gonna soak up the sun.” Crow now joins the ranks of Giuliana Rancic and Serena Williams who have their own clothing collections at the TV retailer.
Crow designed the line based on pieces from her closet, which includes decades of clothes from the stage, videos, red carpets, and everyday stuff hailing from all the way back to high school, she says. (“I wore a pair of Dingo boots [in the “Strong Enough” video] that I’ve had since I was a sophomore in high school. I still wear them. Yes, I’m a pack rat.”)
One of the embroidered jackets is based on a no-name black suede jacket from the 70s that she pulled out of her closet, for example. “Everything that’s in the line is stuff that is very hands on and very relatable to what I wear already,” she said. “I‘m a lover of great denim. A great Y.S.L. shoe or a great Golden Goose boot. I’m drawn to what I’m drawn to.”
It wasn’t always that way. “I’ve been through the trapping of wearing things that actually wore me as opposed to me wearing them,” she laughed. “There’s a point in your career where you’re starting to make it and designers start throwing clothes at you. You find yourself on the red carpet that‘s just not you.” The songwriter declined to share which red carpets, exactly, because she’s “afraid [the photos are] going to turn up again.” It makes one wonder what a line would have looked like if 1995 Sheryl Crow were designing at the time.
Crow’s collection is priced for everyday consumers; the line starts at $39.90 and there’s one bag that retails for $299.90. “I'm from a small town,” she explained. “I grew up in a middle-class family. I think dollars are even more constricted now.”
“I’m a person that’s not above shopping at Target,” she continued. “I love me some Target. I think about women who can’t afford to go out and buy a really cool Chanel jacket and wear it with a pair of [Ralph Lauren] jeans. Who has that money?”
As it happens, Target is currently hosting a collection from Victoria Beckham, a contemporary of Crow’s from the 90s-music scene who has made the full transition to high-end designer. Beckham’s success as a crossover artist was sealed with this collection; those who collaborate with Target tend to be buzzy mid-range designers with a ton of market cred. But where Beckham parlayed her side hustle into a career, Crow is still very much a songstress, who’s passion project is a means to an end, one big bankable tribute to the “be myself” ethos.
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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