Celebs Getting Free Clothes? Juicy Couture Basically Invented That

Photo: Beverly News/REX USA.
Whether you love it or hate it (or still have it buried in the back of your closet), nobody can deny that the Juicy Couture tracksuit had a profound influence on what women wear in their downtime. During their early-aughts heyday, these rainbow-colored sets served as the ultimate bridge between celebrities and regular women. At less than $200, middle-schoolers and moms alike could copy everyone from Madonna to Paris Hilton to Lindsay Lohan — and while it may be a nostalgic guilty pleasure now, back in the day, these terry and velour tracksuits were basically the dream.

In a new interview with Racked, Juicy Couture founders Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor credit the tracksuit's massive success to a grassroots gifting campaign. Skaist-Levy said: “We saw celebrity relationships as a way to hang out. Our idea was to do a celebrity suite at the Chateau Marmont, where we had a girly afternoon of manis and pedis with racks of our clothing.”

Although free swag and celebrity gifting suites are mainstays at awards shows and events now, the concept was practically unheard of back then. Juicy's MO, Skaist-Levy said, was to start small and let the buzz build naturally: “People think that it was an overnight success, but it really took a long time. The start was grassroots. It took off through word of mouth and then through stylists.” Judging from the huge celebrity fan base (Madonna even famously had her tracksuit monogrammed to say "Madge" across the bottom), the strategy clearly worked — and is currently a no-brainer for fashion labels courting influencers and editors today.

But, the designers face a new set of challenges with their latest women's line, Pam & Gela: keeping the fabric that made them famous current for 2015. The goal, said Skaist-Levy, is to make velour in such a way that "people want to wear it and don’t feel like they’re wearing Juicy, which unfortunately seems very dated today." (Racked)
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